Apple has an unprecedented opportunity to steal more Samsung customers this year

Nearly one-fifth of current Samsung phone owners are considering buying an iPhone in the next year, according to a UBS survey.

In another way of looking at it, of all the people who said they are likely or very likely to buy an iPhone in the next year, 30% of those people are current Samsung owners. UBS called the result “stunning” — in past surveys, only 15% to 20% of potential iPhone switchers were coming from Samsung.

UBS reckons people have one less reason to prefer the Samsung Galaxy line-up now that Apple has come out with its large-screen iPhone 6 Plus.

In fact 53% of interested buyers want the Plus, and only 38% are set for the smaller iPhone 6. That’s a big change from a UBS survey in September, when potential buyers said they were considering the regular 6 over the Plus by a 2-to-1 ratio.

The survey polled 1,000 people in each of four markets: China, Italy, the UK, and the US.

The end result? UBS is predicting that Apple will will sell 66 million iPhones this quarter. That’s way above the 54 million unit consensus estimate.

Apple will have its second-biggest quarter ever for iPhone sales if UBS is right.

China is expected to contribute a lot to Apple’s success this quarter.

In January UBS estimated that China may have surpassed the US as the biggest iPhone market.

Chinese consumers are particularly interested in “phablet” phones like the iPhone 6 Plus, which is expected to be huge there this spring.

UBS also found that once people buy an iPhone, they’re more likely to stick with Apple than with any other smartphone maker. This is especially true in China, where Apple has an 80% retention rate. That’s more than twice the retention rate for Samsung and Xiaomi in China.

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