Apple fanbois have a new target for proselytizing. Social media research specialist DigitalMR reports that iPhone ranks in fourth place when it comes to online discussion, after Android models from Samsung, HTC and Motorola.

As everyone knows, the quantity of comments isn’t necessarily desirable, so the “web listening” report also looked at sentiment. It found Samsung attracts 30 percent of all positive mentions, the highest share of any brand. It also received 31 percent of negative mentions.

The pool of negative mentions is much smaller overall, however, since the majority of smartphone comments were positive regardless of brand. For the period September-October 2011, DigitalMR found two-thirds (62 percent) of these customer views were positive.

Samsung’s lead is followed by HTC (22 percent positive mentions, 19 percent negative) and Motorola (17 percent positive, 15 percent negative).

Apple comments ran 12 percent positive compared to 17 percent negative. DigitalMR managing director Michalis Michael said this may well be related to customers “experiencing teething problems” when switching over to the new iOS operating system in October.

“The march of the Androids continues with their increased sales and market share gains being matched by consumers’ conversations online,” Michael said, conjuring up an entertaining mental image given the cuteness of the platform’s green Bugdroid mascot.

More information on the report is available here.

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Photo by Flickr user ToastyKen/Kenneth Lu, used under Creative Commons license