Apple iPhone Tops BlackBerry in Business: Study

Apple’s iPhone beat out Research In Motion’s BlackBerry in terms of customer satisfaction in the enterprise, according to a recent survey.

Among customers who use their smartphones primarily for business purposes, Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone ranked highest with a score of 803, followed by RIM’s (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry with 724, on a 1,000-point scale, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

Among the most important factors contributing to customer satisfaction for business smartphones were ease of operation (29 percent), operating system (23 percent), physical design (21 percent), features (16 percent) and battery function (11 percent).

Following Apple and RIM were Samsung with a score of 697, HTC with 692, and Palm (NASDAQ: PALM) with a tally of 688.

The findings come as RIM and Apple increasingly compete for the other’s core market share, with the former usually dominant in the enterprise — at least by measure of sales, while the latter prevails in the consumer demographic.

RIM executives have said that the BlackBerry maker is aggressively courting consumers to diversify its client base, and that the strategy is paying off so far with rising sales outside the enterprise sector.

Apple meanwhile continues to make inroads into the business market, as more IT staff report that workers who own iPhones for personal use are lobbying to use them at work. Also, upgrades to the iPhone OS have included some measures to address security issues on the device.

Perhaps good news for both companies is that, overall, satisfaction among consumers is on the rise, having climbed 14 points on the index since J.D. Power and Associates conducted a similar study six months ago.

Satisfaction among business smartphone owners has risen 43 points since 2008, while satisfaction among traditional mobile phone owners — increasingly aware of features that their phones don’t have — fell by 6 points since April, according to the findings.

Key factors boosting satisfaction with consumers included ease of operation (30 percent), operating system (22 percent), features (21 percent), physical design (18 percent) and battery function (9 percent), according to the study.

While the industry average was 765 points, Apple scored 811, LG scored 776 and BlackBerry came in third with 759 points. Following them were HTC, Samsung, Palm and Motorola.

The findings also showed that 40 percent of consumer smartphone owners have abandoned their landlines, while only 27 percent of consumers with traditional handsets have done the same.

The proportion of consumers who purchase more affordable smartphones, defined as those costing less than $100, has significantly increased among most of the manufacturers included in the rankings, compared with the previous study.

The researchers suggested that 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,” Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates, said in a statement.

Among business smartphone owners, more than one-half reported downloading third-party games for entertainment, while 46 percent reported downloading travel software such as maps and weather applications — suggesting that business users are also integrating their devices into their personal lives. In addition, nearly one-half of owners reported downloading business utility applications to increase productivity.

Looking forward to the next purchase, 22 percent of consumer smartphone owners said they want their next handset to have Wi-Fi connectivity, while 21 percent want a touch screen, and 17 percent want GPS capabilities.

The results were culled from three studies conducted between January and June of this year.

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