J.D. Power: Which Smartphones Do Biz Users Prefer?

By  Susan Nunziata — October 13, 2009

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. -- Apple's iPhone and Research In Motion's BlackBerry received the highest rankings in customer satisfaction among business users, according to the J.D. Power & Associates  2009 Wireless Business Smartphone Satisfaction Study, released Oct. 8, 2009.

Satisfaction among business users has increased by 43 index points from 2008 as these devices have become more stylish, customizable and user-friendly.

Among customers who use their smartphones primarily for business purposes, Apple ranks highest with a score of  803, followed by Research In Motion's BlackBerry (724).

In order of importance, key factors of overall satisfaction for business smartphones are:

  • ease of operation (29%)
  • operating system (23%)
  • physical design (21%)
  • features (16%)
  • battery function (11%)
Among business smartphone owners, more than one-half report downloading third-party games for entertainment, while 46 percent report downloading travel software such as maps and weather applications -- indicating business users are also integrating their devices into their personal lives.

In addition, nearly one-half of owners (46%) report downloading business utility applications to increase productivity.

J.D. Power & Associates 2009 Wireless Business Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study
(Overall smartphone index rankings based on a 1,000-point scale)
 Brand  Index Ranking
 Apple iPhone
 RIM BlackBerry  724
 Industry Average  724
 Samsung  697
 Palm  688
Source: J.D. Power & Associates, "2009 Wireless Business Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study."

The 2009 Wireless Business smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study is based on experiences reported by 1,148 smartphone owners who use their smartphone for primarily business purposes. The study was fielded between January and June 2009.

Consumer Satisfaction Ratings
The company also released two consumer-focused reports on Oct. 8, 2009 Wireless Consumer smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study--Volume 2 and 2009 Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Satisfaction Study--Volume 2.

The studies show that overall satisfaction among smartphone owners has increased considerably over time as manufacturers continue to improve styling, feature sets, usability and software. In fact, satisfaction among consumer smartphone owners has increased by 14 index points (on a 1,000-point scale) from just six months ago.

Among traditional mobile phone owners, overall satisfaction has declined by six index points from April 2009, likely as a result of heightened awareness among traditional mobile phone owners of advanced features available on smartphones.

Apple ranks highest among manufacturers of smartphones used primarily for personal reasons, with a score of  811, and performs particularly well in ease of operation, operating system, features and physical design. LG (776) and RIM BlackBerry (759) follow Apple in the rankings.

For consumer smartphones, key factors for customer satisfaction are:
  • ease of operation (30%)
  • operating system (22%)
  • features (21%)
  • physical design (18%)
  • battery function (9%)
The proportion of consumers who purchase more affordable smartphones (those costing less than $100) has significantly increased among most of the manufacturers included in the rankings, compared with the previous wave of the study six months ago. This indicates that wireless carriers are discounting their devices to attract new customers who are willing to pay for more costly service plans.

"Attractive rebates or discounts offered to current smartphone owners, as well as incentives given to traditional handset owners to upgrade to smartphones, are effective ways for wireless carriers to generate revenue and increase market share," says Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. "It is important, however, that manufacturers meet the expectations of those taking advantage of such offers by ensuring the features are intuitive and ultimately rewarding to them in the long run. Providing an easy-to-use, yet powerful operating system with the ability to customize applications to suit owners' individual needs is essential to providing a high-quality and rewarding wireless experience."

LG ranks highest in overall wireless customer satisfaction with traditional handsets with a score of 723, performing well across all factors, particularly battery function, features and operation. For traditional wireless handsets, key factors are:
  • operation (30%)
  • physical design (30%)
  • features (20%)
  • battery function (20%)
The study finds that wireless carriers are offering deep discounts on traditional handsets, with 43 percent of traditional mobile phone owners, on average, reporting they received their handset free of charge. Satisfaction is significantly lower among owners who receive their handsets for free. Among these owners, satisfaction averages just 693, compared with 713 among owners who pay for their traditional mobile phone.

"Satisfaction is notably lower among owners who receive their handsets for free, because these phones often do not offer the full suite of features that owners desire," says Parsons. "When fewer features are available, usage rates also decline, which translates into lower brand loyalty. Offering extensive features that owners can integrate into their daily lives may foster brand loyalty to both the phone manufacturer and wireless carrier, and ultimately result in a more rewarding and satisfying owner experience."

The studies also find the following key wireless handset usage patterns among consumer smartphone owners:
  • 22 percent want Wi-Fi capability in their next handset, while 21 percent want touch-screen capabilities and 17 percent want GPS capability.
  • More than 40 percent report entirely replacing landline calling with mobile phone calling, while only 27 percent of traditional handset owners have done the same.
The 2009 Wireless Consumer smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study--Volume 2 and the 2009 Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Evaluation Study--Volume 2, both of which were fielded between January and June 2009, are based on experiences reported by 12,595 traditional mobile phone and 3,221 smartphone owners who have used their current mobile phone for less than two years.

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