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Why You Shouldn't Trust the uSamp Verizon iPhone Survey

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Saturday’s are usually slow days in the tech news world, but thanks to a new survey (PDF) from online research firm uSamp that argues that 44% of Verizon Android users and 26% of AT&T iPhone users will wait in line to get a Verizon iPhone on the first day it goes on sale, we have something fun to chat about.

Here are the most interesting results of the survey: 44% of Verizon Android users are very likely (19%) or somewhat likely (25%) to buy an iPhone on February 10. About 26% of AT&T iPhone owners are either very likely (8%) or somewhat likely (18%) to get in line for a Verizon iPhone on day one.

Now, given the huge demand for Verizon iPhones, there can be little doubt that it will be a huge hit for both Verizon and Apple. I’m not doubting that at all. What I do doubt, however, are the survey results from uSamp. Here are some of the problems I see with this survey and the way it’s currently portrayed:

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  • How does uSamp recruit panelists? That one was a bit harder to find out, but as far as I can see, panelists are recruited through Opinion Place – a service owned by the same company as uSamp that pays panelists in Paypal credits, Amazon gift cards and American Airlines frequent flier miles. Basically, these people take surveys to make a buck – not exactly a trustworthy methodology.
  • Opinion Place 1

  • If you read all the way to the end of the survey, you see that a lot of people have “second thoughts about switching.” Once asked about these second thoughts, the number of switchers from AT&T to Verizon suddenly drops from 26% to 15%. Same for Verizon RIM and Android customers. The number of potential switchers drops from 54% to 25% after the survey asks if they still plan to switch, no matter the cost of switching, concerns about network speeds and the possibility that lots of iPhones could slow down Verizon’s network. This once again makes me wonder of the panelists who took this survey.
  • Related to this: I never trust a survey that asks consumers about future purchase decisions (see the ChangeWave iPhone survey from January for an example and more explanation). Saying ‘yes’ about buying something in the future is very easy. Doing it is a lot harder (especially if early termination fees play a role).
  • as far as I can see, this is only the second survey uSamp’s published under its own name. That doesn’t have to be a negative, but one could argue that uSamp doesn’t have a lot of experience in running its own surveys. The first survey – about consumer sentiments ahead of the holidays – seems quite reasonable, but maybe those questions were more in line with topics the paid uSamp panelists knew something about…

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I’m happy to be proven wrong here. As I said above, I’m not doubting that the Verizon iPhone will be a huge hit and that lots of people will switch. I just think this survey isn’t the best way to prove that.



6:45 pm