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More buzz than buyers: intention to buy Samsung, not Apple, rises after NZ launch of iPhone 5S and 5C

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), November 2008 – October 2013, rolling 12 month average annual n= 670 New Zealanders 14+ who intend to buy a new phone within next three months

The 5S and 5C iPhones have failed to recapture Apple’s former lead over Samsung among imminent phone buyers, early indicators from Roy Morgan Research reveal.

In April 2013, Samsung launched its Galaxy S4—and overtook Apple as the brand more near-term new phone intenders (purchasing within the next three months) say they plan to buy.

In the few months leading up to the release of the 5S and 5C models in September, intention among these prospective buyers shot up for Apple and started to flatten for Samsung, perhaps as prospective buyers waited to see what Apple’s new models would offer. With less than 1% point in it, Apple looked set to reclaim the lead—but then its phones came out: Apple actually declined and Samsung rose again. As one parody ad put it, the ‘S’ in 5S stands for ‘Same’.   

Proportion of ‘Within Next Three Months’ phone buyers intending to buy Apple or Samsung

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), November 2008 – October 2013, rolling 12 month average annual n= 670 New Zealanders 14+ who intend to buy a new phone within next three months

Intention for both brands has increased exponentially over the past few years, as smartphones moved into the mainstream and the dominance of former market leader Nokia quickly faded.

In the year to October 2013, 30% of imminent buyers said they intend to buy a Samsung—around double the rate a year before, and triple the rate the year before that.

Throughout 2012, up to 30% of near-term Kiwis buyers said they still didn’t know which brand they would buy; this has since declined to under 25% as intenders increasingly nominate Apple or Samsung.

Pip Elliott, General Manager, Roy Morgan Research NZ, says:

“These results show that Samsung has been more successful than Apple in leveraging anticipation about its latest into actual post-launch purchase intention. Over the coming months, we’ll see how this intention translates into sales. As of October, Apple and Samsung were neck and neck among smartphone owners, each with a touch under 30% of the market.

“In the year to October 2013, we asked over 600 short-term prospective buyers for their opinions on mobile phone brands. The iPhone scores highly on ‘leading edge technology’ (61% vs 49% for Samsung), ‘has lots of features (59% vs 44%) and ‘looks and feels good’ (52% vs 44%). Samsung, however, outperforms Apple on matters of brand trust, likeability, affinity, and value for money.

“These issues correlate strongly to Technology Adoption Segments. Early Adopters seeking new technology, features and style lean toward Apple; but Older Tech Explorers, Technology Traditionalists and Technophobes place more value on Samsung’s perceived qualities. And while Early Adopters already have an iPhone, the latter groups are now entering the market—and heading for Samsung.

“Our latest research shows that 40% of New Zealanders now have a smartphone, and 22% intend to buy or upgrade within the next year—that’s a potential 780,000 phones sold.”

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About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

Roy Morgan Research New Zealand

Roy Morgan Research was set up in New Zealand in the 1990s and has been collecting information across a wide range of industries in New Zealand ever since.  Roy Morgan currently has over 10 years of trended data on a geographically and demographically representative sample of over 12,000 New Zealanders aged 14+. 

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate



25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%