The iPhone rocket is poised to leave Android and the rest in the dust

Report foresees Android owners jumping ship in droves for upcoming 'iPhone 5' -- will the iPhone dominate as the iPod has?

Yes, he only surveyed 216 mobile phone users in Minneapolis, chosen not so randomly near "food courts, on the street, near the entrance of a baseball stadium on game day." But analyst Gene Munster struck a raw chord with his account to Piper Jaffray clients on Monday, as reported by Fortune CNN.

Munster found that 94 percent of iPhone users plan to buy another iPhone when they get a new smartphone. But he also found that just 47 percent of Android users say they plan to buy another Android smartphone -- and most of those who plan to abandon Android (42 percent) say they're going to get an iPhone next. Ouch!

The outlook for BlackBerry is even worse. (Spoiler alert: if you own a BlackBerry or actually like your BlackBerry, skip the rest of this article. It could save you a shock of gray hair and a bottle of Maalox.)

Of current BlackBerry users, 67 percent say they're going to get an iPhone when their BlackBerry goes belly-up. In all fairness, Munster only found 61 BlackBerry owners to take part in the survey (itself not a good omen). But 67 percent. ...

Already, Apple has become the top seller of smartphones in the world, followed by Samsung (mainly for its Android devices), and then by Nokia, for years the leader in global smartphone sales that abandoned its decrepit Symbian OS this year and is betting on Windows Phone 7 "Mango" to reinvigorate its smartphone business in 2012. Android devices as a group outsell the iPhone, but Munster's survey suggests that Android momentum may be dissipating, whereas iPhone momentum is only increasing.

Why the mass migration to the iPhone?

One of the most credible explanations: A lot of Verizon Wireless customers are waiting for the "iPhone 5," Apple's forthcoming iPhone update. They already have phones, bought before Verizon offered the iPhone 4 in February, and they aren't going to give the old phones up until the "iPhone 5" gets here in September or October. T-Mobile and Sprint customers, who may or may not get the "iPhone 5" as an option from their carriers this year, may also be waiting for the chance to switch phones -- and perhaps change providers at the same time if Apple doesn't expand the number of carriers that offer the iPhone.

My theory? It's the halo effect. Apple's firing on all cylinders, with the MacBook Air, iPad 2, and iPhone 4 rolling over the market in the United States, and other Macs soon to appear, as well as all the positive buzz over the new Mac OS X Lion. The iPhone is not only a sound choice, it's a cool one -- technically, of course. Apple's brand loyalty has always been intense -- rabid, even. These days it's not only intense, but infectious.

What does it all mean? Munster believes that Apple's share of the U.S. smartphone market will go into orbit. Never mind the fact that, as of last quarter, Apple was already the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world. Never mind the fact that Apple raked in two-thirds of the profits, worldwide, on mobile phone sales last quarter. Never mind the fact that iPhone sales outside the United States dwarf the Verizon sales blip. That high flying just got the iPhone into the atmosphere. It's looking as if the iPhone could end up like the iPod: the all-but-universal choice in its market.

The strangest point of all: No one has any idea what the "iPhone 5" will look like -- nobody who's talking, anyway. And it's already a legend.

This story, "The iPhone rocket is poised to leave Android and the rest in the dust," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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