UPDATED: A new study on the good and the bad about Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry illustrates users have expanding feature expectations and aren’t completely satisfied with either popular handheld mobile device.
The top feature users like about RIM’s (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry device is its e-mail capabilities, as a whopping 56 percent noted it as the best “like” feature, according to a new ChangeWave “Smart Phone Wars” survey released this week.
When it comes to the iPhone, users cited the integration of phone, iPod and Internet browser as the best ‘like’ aspect. The device’s touch screen interface came in second, followed by ease of use.
Device size was cited as the second best aspect with seven percent of respondents, and five percent of users choose Internet access and keypad form. The top BlackBerry complaint, with 13 percent of votes, was a slow browser experience.
The top two complaints about the iPhone are tied to its one and only wireless carrier, AT&T. Slow network speed was cited by 21 percent as the leading ‘dislike,’ followed by the mandatory requirement to use AT&T (NYSE: T) as a provider.
While the survey polled consumer users, the research firm said results indicate users’ needs are evolving. Some consumer users are looking for business-level mobile services. For example, iPhone users also listed the inability to copy and paste text, poor battery life and a lack of third-party software as top complaints.
“It’s becoming a slugfest but you can’t say who’s going to win at this point,” Paul Carton, research director at ChangeWave, told InternetNews.com. “While this survey was consumer based, over time I would expect consumer and business needs to merge. As each brand has tremendous strength it will be a matter of one vendor building over to the other user base,” he said.
For now the iPhone is still forging a successful path in the consumer cell phone space, though lagging far behind handset leader Nokia. Its arrival, though, clearly changed the market for some handset players. Motorola, which has been experiencing serious challenges for the past year, has been hurt hard. Not only did it lose its number two spot behind Nokia, ChangeWave reports that two in five iPhone owners, about 39 percent, previously owned a Motorola phone.
Given its increasing popularity, there is potential for Apple to one day face-off against RIM as an enterprise device, though the transition will take some doing, according to industry watchers.
According to the survey, 19 percent of iPhone users want 3G capability; 18 percent expect more third-party software, 15 percent seek GPS functionality and 10 percent want e-mail integration.
Market traction will remain challenging for all consumer-focused vendors, according to new research. Despite a 14.3 percent growth in mobile device units shipped in the first quarter of 2007, as compared with last year’s first quarter, economic issues and less disposable income will likely impact sales this year.
In response, industry watchers expect vendors to push out lower-priced devices, as well as innovative service plans and new features.
“Disposable income is being eroded by rising food and fuel prices and worries about global financial markets and slow economic growth are creating a cautious outlook for the months ahead,” Ramon T. Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Device Technology and Trends team, stated in a research statement.
While spend on the consumer side may decrease, research indicates that business mobile budgets will continue to increase, as mobile workforces expand.
New Aberdeen research reports companies spent 7.6 percent more in enterprise mobility this year than last year, and that 69 percent of enterprises polled plan to leverage high-speed mobile data services to enable greater connectivity in the next year.
By the end of 2008, seven out of 10 organizations will have deployed either BlackBerry or Windows Mobile devices, according to Aberdeen, and business professionals cite mobility as one of the top three technologies having the greatest impact on business over the next three to five years.
Given those enterprise trends, increasing consumer adoption and the anticipated arrival of Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android mobile platform this year, one thing is a sure bet. Motorola won’t be the only handset maker clawing for traction in the next few years.