RealTime IT News

Smartphones Winning Over Road Warriors

The latest high tech phones are gaining in appeal with so-called road warriors, the salespeople, executives and others who frequently do business away from the office.

According to high tech market research firm In-Stat, business travelers spending $300 per month or more on wireless, and business travelers on the road 30 percent of the time, are beginning to take to the new handsets, though there's plenty of room for growth.

Next-generation, richly featured handsets capable of both voice and high-speed data are starting to win mindshare and regular usage among high-usage U.S. business travelers.

However, In-Stat also found that despite the availability of sophisticated, converged wireless handsets and high-speed networks, mainstream mobile users continue to rely on ordinary laptop computers and cell phones for applications such as email, personal information management and voice calls.

A just-released In-Stat study, "Road Warriors: High Usage U.S. Mobile Workers," found that heavy business mobile users are consuming about a third of their total airtime via their secondary handsets. Also, the highest-spending business travelers averaged more than $450 per month spent on wireless services.

Analyst Roger Kay, who tracks mobile and PC technology for Endpoint Technologies Associates, said cost isn't an important issue.

"If there was an ideal device, they [road warriors] would pretty much buy it no matter what the cost," said Kay. "But there aren't any yet. I like to say using a PDA as a phone is like holding a ham sandwich to your head."

Mobile users surveyed by In-Stat spent an average of $151 per month for all forms of wireless (including cellular and Wi-Fi), which was 16 percent more than what the research firm found in a study done earlier this year.

The research firm listed several challenges the next-generation mobile phone suppliers face in trying to broaden the market.

For one, they need to create greater awareness of smartphone's benefits, and overcome end-user resistance to change. Also, while the "ideal device" will likely remain elusive, developers will need to make the right technical design trade-offs to create best-selling products.