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Apple loses top spot in brand loyalty for smartphones, tablets

Apple has been dethroned as the leader when it comes to emotional engagement and loyalty for mobile products, with Samsung taking the No. 1 spot for smartphones and Amazon taking the lead for tablets, according to a new report from Brand Keys. 

According to the 2013 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, consumers have increased expectations when it comes to personalization and a sense of personal productivity in the smartphone category, which contributed to Samsung?s triumph over Apple. The results suggest that Apple is no longer seen as the innovator in smartphones and tablets that it once was.

?It is an enormous switch-over,? said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, New York. ?The more personal aspects beyond just connectivity are becoming the important emotional engagement factors and that, generally speaking, brands that cannot do that are not going to be at the top of the list.

?Apple has been at the top of the list for a long time,? he said. ?But I think that this issue regarding utilizing mobile in terms of personal management and personal outreach has become so much more important as a category driver that Samsung has just kind of slipped ahead of Apple

?To a certain degree, it becomes an issue of who seems to be innovating for the personal needs of the consumers.?

Samsung shines
While Samsung has always had a strong showing in the annual measurement of brand loyalty by category, the brand is now a leader across several consumer electronics categories, including smartphones, laptop computers ? tied with Apple ? and flat-screen TVs. Samsung is in second place in home printers and tablets.

Samsung?s advertising strategy over the past year is responsible for some of the positive buzz around the brand, with the brand focusing on positioning itself to as a technology innovator for young, tech savvy consumers.

A campaign that ran last year, tagged ?The Next Big Thing,? poked fun at Apple fans who lined up in advance of a new device?s release despite it having fewer features than Samsung?s Galaxy Series.

Another spot, which came out around the time that Apple was introducing the iPhone 5, featured a young Samsung user holding a spot in line for his Baby Boomer parents.

?I?ve been watching the commercial for the past year or some that Samsung has been doing,? Mr. Passikoff said. ?They have been calling Apple out and they are doing it in ways that are more meaningful to people.

?Apple has kind of stalled in terms of this sense of personal innovation and Samsung seems to have taken that on for themselves,? he said.

In smartphones, Apple takes second place behind Samsung and followed by LG. Nokia and Sony tied for fourth place, followed by Motorola, HTC and BlackBerry.

IPad toppled
Apple?s drop to second place in the tablet category is surprising, given that the iPad still dominates the tablet category. However the brand?s market share in tablets has been declining.

The strength of the Amazon Kindle in the report points to Amazon?s ability to bring brand value to the category by enabling users to replace simple ereaders with a device whose primary purpose is still an ereader but which has some tablet features at a price lower than an iPad.

?Apple was very reactive in terms of having to come out with a smaller version because Amazon had one,? Mr. Passikoff said.

?People said oh, the iPad is great, but it is the size of a magazine and I can?t put it in my coat pocket,? he said.

?Again, we are seeing the strength of the leading brands resonating in terms of that personal development, personal applications in my life aspect.?

In terms of tablets, Amazon is in first place followed by Apple and Samsung, which are tied in second place. In third place is Barnes & Noble followed by three way tie between Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba in fourth place. Tied for fifth place are Sony and Google followed by Asus.

For ereaders, the Kindle came in first followed by the Nook, iPad, Kobo and Sony.

While Apple has lost some ground in terms of brand loyalty, it is still the number two in smartphones and tablet categories, pointing to its continued ? if slightly diminished ? strength in mobile.

?It is reflecting in their position in the market as well and to a certain extent it should,? Mr. Passikoff said. ?The brands at the top of the list always tend to see more positive behavior in the marketplace toward them than brands that are lower down.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York