RIM's BlackBerry devices came out on top in J.D. Power and Associates' first annual Business Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study, with Palm's Treos and Samsung's offerings coming in a close second.
RIM earned a score of 702 points on a 1,000-point scale, performing particularly well in the operating system factor, which includes the speed of moving between applications and speed of sending/receiving emails. The company also performed well in battery aspects, including the length of battery life.
"Particularly for RIM, ease of using basic applications and features and providing the right amount of functionality in a lightweight package has given the manufacturer an edge," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services for J.D. Power and Associates.
Palm and Samsung both scored a 698 to closely follow RIM in the ranking.
J.D. Power's study looked at six key factors. In order of importance, they are: ease of operation (22%); operating system (21%); physical design (20%); audio (14%); battery aspects (13%); and utility features (10%).
Differences by Operating System
Not surprisingly, the study finds that customer satisfaction varies depending on the type of operating system being used in the smartphone, as each has its own advantages.
For example, customers note that the Palm's basic features are easy to use, such as making and receiving calls; checking voice mail; using the keyboard and key pads; and understanding display screen symbols. In comparison, smartphone devices using the Microsoft Windows system perform well with regard to call quality, particularly when it comes to sound quality and having a wide variety of preloaded ring tones to choose from.
"While each OS platform excels in a particular area, there is definitely room for improvement across the market as not one smartphone brand excels in all business application dimensions," said Parsons. "It's critical for manufacturers to offer a complete package of functionality and ease of operation that meets the business needs of customers."
Other survey results
The J.D. Power study also found the following key smartphone business wireless usage patterns:
- Among smartphone customers, 13 percent report having to get their device repaired, with software application issues, device locking up or display not working being the most frequently reported problems.
- More than 40% of smartphone users would like GPS (global positioning system) capabilities on their device, while 26% would like Wi-Fi capabilities, 22% want a touchscreen, and 19% would like to have a TV integrated into their device.
- The average reported purchase price of a smartphone is $261. Palm owners report the highest price at $313. Motorola has the lowest reported device pricing at $194.
- The top five reasons given for choosing a smartphone brand are: personal information manager (PIM) functionality (50%), Internet capability (48%), Bluetooth capabilities (46%), general ease of use (44%), and overall design/style (44%).
- Thirty-five percent of smartphone owners download third-party software. Popular software downloads among business users include games (51%), travel-related programs (42%), and business applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel (36%).
The 2007 Business Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 1,089 business wireless customers who currently own a smartphone. Findings are based on data collected in August 2007.
More information on the survey can be found on the J.D. Power website.