FORTUNE -- "Samsung's Radio City Music Hall launch of its Galaxy S IV smartphone made good headlines, but consumer buying data shows that at the checkout counter, Apple continues to eat Samsung's lunch."
So writes the Yankee Group's Carl Howe, in defiance of conventional wisdom, summarizing the findings of a survey of 16,000 U.S. smartphone customers.
The key, he says, is customer loyalty: "Apple's 'black hole' ecosystem captures subscribers who never leave, while Android smartphones are losing one out of every six customers to other manufacturers."
The operative metaphor, according to Howe, is a leaky bucket.
"Think of the Apple and Android ecosystems as two buckets of water. New smartphone buyers — mostly upgrading feature phone owners — fall like rain into the two big buckets about equally, with a smaller number falling into Windows Phone and BlackBerry buckets. However, the Android bucket leaks badly, losing about one in five of all the owners put into it. The Apple bucket leaks only about 7 percent of its contents, so it retains more of the customers that fall into it. The Apple bucket will fill up faster and higher than the Android one, regardless of the fact that the Apple bucket may have had fewer owners in it to begin with."
As several readers have pointed out, the survey was of U.S. smartphone customers only. The findings should not be extrapolated to apply to the rest of the world.
Thanks to AllThingsD's John Paczkowski, who was the first to get his hands on the full report.
Analysts have published estimates ranging from 2 to 4 million. What's your guess?
UPDATE: We have a winner. Apple announced Monday that the correct answer was "over four million," the guess of nearly 23% of our readers.
- - -
When the iPhone 4 went on sale 16 months ago, Apple (AAPL) sold 1.7 million in the first weekend, counting pre-orders.
The analysts who have ventured a guess seem confident that by Sunday MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 15, 2011 5:55 AM ET
Even with the record set straight, a Yankee Group survey gives cold comfort
My colleagues at CNNMoney can be forgiven, writes the Yankee Group's Carl Howe in a "Setting the record straight" blog post Monday, for getting a statistic wrong in their brief summary of his 3,500 word report "Why iPhones matter." (Available for $1,295 here, if you have an expense account.)
Reading the offending sentence fragment -- "77% of iPhone owners MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jul 27, 2010 2:57 PM ET
|Stocks finish higher for fourth straight week|
|Prison exclusive: Bernie Madoff can't sleep|
|Oil-price manipulation: the next Libor?|
|Signs of new housing bubble in several areas|
|How devoted are Apple users to the Apple ecosystem?|