iPhone #2 in Smartphones... #1 in Business Satisfaction?!

During Apple's last conference call, Steve Jobs positively cooed about Apple's iPhone passing RIM's Blackberry in sales last month. If anyone had any doubts, Canalys says it's so (for whatever that bag of analysis is worth). According to Apple Insider, they pegged the market as Nokia 46.6%, Apple 17.3, RIM 15.2, and Windows Mobile 13.6. (Google's Android, of course, was not yet launched and Palm... er... Palm?)

While some have cited Bold delays, Storm warnings, an iPhone 3G honeymoon, and other reasons to explain Apple's good fortunes last quarter, JD Powers 2008 Business Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study gives an even more interesting answer: Business users like the iPhone better!

Blackberrys are okay, and Palms are teh sux, by contrast, according to the survey. The iPhone's edge? ease of use, feature set and design. Engadget points out that the iPhone scored 5/5 on features, in spite of our ongoing complaints about the lack of cut and paste, A2DP, MMS, etc., etc. ad naseum infinitum.


So maybe, just maybe, users prefer a smaller set of features done delightfully well to a gobsmack of them cobbled together with near impenetrability?

Who'da thunk it?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iPhone #2 in Smartphones... #1 in Business Satisfaction?!


Although the iPhone still needs many improvements, the biggest reason for its success is its user interface. My wife is a perfect example of how good it is. She avoids technically complicated things to the extent she can. Her phone contract was up so I looked at getting her an iPhone. I was glad for the 30 day trial and told her if she didn't lie it I would return it and get her something else. She loves it and wanted to keep it. She is actually learning to use additional features a little at a time. The beauty is that it doesn't force you to become an expert all at once but allows you to gradually expand your horizon as you become more familiar with the devise and your needs expand.
Now she is using the calendar, she loves the visual voice mail and getting her email and texting is easy. She has started to learn to use the camera and games and actually played solitaire for most of a flight back from Hawaii. The bottom line is that you just can't beat a good UI.

Of course, you can't search for an event in the calendar or do many truly business oriented things on an iPhone.
It does show how inportant a good UI is, even when the feature set is limited.
My guess is that there are a lot of newbies using the iphone - people who have never used a hand held device (other than a basic phone) before.
These people don't know what they're missing, and what the iPhone -should- be able to do, based on it's technical abilities.
That's the sad part.
Best browser, good iPod, average phone - lousy PDA and real business tool.

I agree with coop a bit, in that the UI almost trumps the lack of functionality. However, having gone from Palm IIIx -> Axim X5 -> Palm Zire 31 -> Audiovox SMT5600 -> Palm Treo 650 -> Cingular 8525 -> iPhone ... out of all of those devices, I use the iPhone far more even though it's not nearly as 'powerful' as my 8525 (for example).
I'm also not a business user (although I do work for a PDA software company :)).
I think there are more groups than 'your mom', 'that guy whose blackberry is glued to his palms', 'a tween who texts more than they talk out loud'.
I'm kind of an advanced minimalist user. I could - and know how to - do a lot of advanced things on a mobile device, but generally my life just doesn't require them.
For that... the iPhone wins.

I now carry both my iPhone (for it's brilliant browser, and average cell phone capability) and my Garmin 3600 for PDA (excel and word editing, calendar, to do lists and memos) and GPS (with turn by turn directions).
My goal was to have one device, but with the iPhone being unable to do such basic tasks as searching within the calendar app to find upcoming events, it's a piece of crap as a business tool.
What's frustrating, is that it could be so much more - and they tout it as being business friendly. In reality because of the limitations Apple imposes on it, it's a dissapointing toy.
You know how the iPhone automatically provides a tag line to append to all sent emails? The default is "Sent from my iPhone". I've changed it to "Sent from my visually beautiful but functionally crippled, overpriced, overhyped, underperforming iPhone".
Yep, that about sums it up for me.

"So maybe, just maybe, users prefer a smaller set of features done delightfully well to a gobsmack of them cobbled together with near impenetrability?"
Stop making sense.

It is far more than the device - it is the back end infrastructure. Although Blackberry has the excellent, and proprietary messaging infrastructure, Apple's extensive 3rd party application library, superb development tools, user management tool (iTunes) and a philosophy that it is the software, not the device, makes the functionality. Apple has a single deployment environment, and solid UNIX underpinnings, that allows developers to create and deploy applications to a large audience using a single code set and test environment against a known and consistent feature set.
Blackberry, on the other hand, has archaic development tools - even their testing environment provides for 20 different simulators to match their product offerings. It is no wonder that the application base for BB is miniscule by model - developers can't easily deploy to the 20 model formats without extensive coding and testing hoops to jump through. Deployment communities are even more constrained, as they either have to go with a single blackberry model across the corporate user base, or live with a very limited application set that works across models, if it even exists.
It seems every handset manufacturer tries to outdo the other on features, when what they need to concentrate on is the solution - phone, email, web, PDA, a back end infrastructure that allows easy user management of what things are on the device, and a rich selection of applications - and not just the phone feature checklist.
As far as UI goes, the BB environment seems to be stuck between MS-DOS and Windows - text and GUI. It feels glued together with duct tape. Even though the feature set and operation is quite well integrated, it just feels clunky. Every function and application feels like a different experience, with no enforcement of human interface conformance guidelines - something that Apple has done exceedingly well since the first Mac.