Apple's iPhone luring people to ditch rival phones

LONDON/SAN FRANCISCO Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:17pm EDT

A customer uses his new iPhone 4S after making the purchase at Apple's flagship retail store in San Francisco, California October 14, 2011.  REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

A customer uses his new iPhone 4S after making the purchase at Apple's flagship retail store in San Francisco, California October 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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LONDON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc's latest iPhone looks set to become its bestselling device ever, and one reason appears to be disenchantment with rival smartphones.

Nearly one in four people who thronged Apple stores from Tokyo to San Francisco told Reuters on Friday they were ditching BlackBerries, discarding Nokias or even giving up Google Android-based phones, hoping for something better.

The majority of the 127 iPhone 4S buyers polled informally by Reuters in the United States, Japan, Australia, France, Germany and Britain were Apple diehards upgrading their devices.

But 28 claimed they were making a switch, with some saying they were disillusioned by Research in Motion after this week's global BlackBerry outage that enraged millions.

"I was with Nokia before, but I guess they've sort of lost their way in terms of the interface and everything. Plus, most of my friends use Apple," Myles Geissler, 25, said while shopping for an iPhone in Sydney.

Apple had already pre-sold over a million during the first day it went live on the Internet -- a week before it hit stores selves in seven countries on Friday.

RIM's BlackBerry and smartphones by manufacturers such as Nokia -- which abandoned Symbian and will this year unveil devices based on Microsoft software -- have been losing ground to the iPhone, which is facing a serious threat only from Android phones.

The new phone looks similar to the previous iPhone 4 but has a faster processor, better camera and a voice-activated software dubbed "Siri", which lets users ask the phone questions and helps in logging calendar items.

"I am going into fashion and it's like the official phone of the industry. Also, I am tired of the Blackberry issues, like stuff going down every six months," said fashion publicist Adam at the Times Square store.

RIM's share of the global smartphone market fell to 11.7 percent in the second quarter, from 13.0 percent in the first, according to Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney. Android's share rose to 43.4 percent from 36.4 percent, and Apple's rose to 18.2 percent from 16.9 percent.

Sprint reported record single days in the United States for any device -- by 1 p.m.

"We are seeing a nice mix of people who are first-time smartphone purchasers as well as those who are switching from competitors," said Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney.

Away from the notoriously fickle consumer-gadget marketplace, Apple also appears to be making strides.

Apple appears to be a winner when workers get to pick their own phones, in a trend known as the consumerization of IT. Companies can save money when they let employees buy their own phones and pay their own monthly bills.

An Aite Group poll of 402 wealth managers conducted before the outage found that 45 percent would choose an iPhone or iPad, compared with 14 percent for a BlackBerry.

"Siri is pretty amazing. With Android, you have to memorize commands. I don't understand why it can't be on all (Apple) phones," said James Thompson, who had braved the six-hour drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco just to get in line -- overnight -- with his brother.

(Additional reporting by Sinead Carew, Liana Baker and Supantha Mukherjee in New York, Michael Perry and Amy Pyett in Sydney, and Maki Shiraki and Reiji Murai in Tokyo; Editing by Gary Hill)

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