Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) showed signs of stability; Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (LON:BC94) demonstrated a rising profile, while Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) remained solid, according to the third annual survey of mobile devices and operating systems conducted by analysts from UBS (NYSE:USBS).

Apple Samsung

UBS investment analysts, Gareth Jenkins and Steve Miluvich, projected that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) will face strong challenges in establishing its position in the smartphone market. According to them, “It is difficult to see how Microsoft successfully enters a maturing high end smartphone market.”

Jenkins and Miluvich surveyed 2,000 respondents worldwide, and found that the retention rate for Apple’s iPhone among smartphone customers is not so strong, but the analysts believe that it is still high.

“Despite the base of Apple iPhone users more than doubling over three years, the retention rates seen by the company remain unprecedented in the handset industry at c.85% (down from 89% in 2011, and 95% in 2010, given early adopter bias),” said Jenkins and Miluvich.

The survey also showed that respondents are not sure what type of smartphone they intend to purchase next. Among the respondents who are likely to buy a new smartphone from a different vendor, the survey showed that customers are uncertain if they will choose Apple.

According to the analysts, “The likelihood that these consumers will choose Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is now less certain with Apple and Samsung almost evenly likely to win the business.” Jenkins and Miluvich opine that respondents indicated that the “mind share of churning users is becoming evenly balanced.”

In addition, the analysts said smartphone users’ response in the current survey showed less certainty on which OEM would benefit in their next purchase, compared with the responses received in the 2011 survey, wherein a majority of users indicated their intention to choose Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). Based on the survey, 40 percent of respondents did not know what smartphone they would buy next as a replacement for their existing handsets.

On the other hand, the analysts found that Samsung’s retention rate among smartphone users increased significantly during the past twelve months to 45 percent from 28 percent in 2011, due to the introduction of competitive products.

Meanwhile, Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK), HTC (Taiwan:2498) and RIM’s (NASDAQ:RIMM) retention rates continue to decline.