NUREMBERG: Consumers owning smartphones such as the iPhone and BlackBerry often exhibit low levels of brand loyalty, a multimarket survey has found.

Research firm GfK interviewed 2,653 mobile phone subscribers from Brazil, China, Germany, Spain, the UK and US.

Overall, 56% of respondents had not decided which manufacturer to do business with when next buying a new device.

Just 25% of the panel planned to retain the operating system they currently used, reaching 59% among Apple customers.

Figures fell to 35% concerning Research in Motion's BlackBerry and 28% regarding alternatives powered by Google's Android.

Nokia's Symbian scored 24%, having recently appointed its first chief marketing officer, in keeping with a wider effort to enhance the company's image and standing.

Microsoft, which introduced the Windows Phone 7 earlier this year, only registered 21%.

GfK suggested that as web access, geo-location services and high-resolution cameras are essentially standardised, options like application stores now play a central role in consumer thinking.

"Loyalty with a handset is a lot more complicated these days in that people buy into experiences at the high-end level," Ryan Garner, a GfK analyst, told Reuters.

"If a phone doesn't do what it says it will do or what the owner hopes it will do, the maker will lose loyalty."

Elsewhere, the study revealed 37% of those polled in all nations, excluding China, intended to trade up and purchase a smartphone when the time came to change device.

The fledgling nature of the 3G infrastructure and other logistical problems meant this question was unlikely to yield comparable results in China.

Gartner, the IT research group, estimated that smartphone sales rose by 96% during the third quarter of 2010, achieving a record of almost 80m units.

In North America, the world's largest market, Google's Android holds the top spot, while Apple leapfrogged Research in Motion to take second place.

Data sourced from Reuters; additional content by Warc staff