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BlackBerry devices, manufactured by Research in Motion (RIM), rank highest in overall customer satisfaction among business wireless smartphone users, according to the J.D. Power and Associates “2007 Business Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study.”

The inaugural study measures business customers’ satisfaction with their wireless smartphones (mobile phones with advanced capabilities), based on six key factors: ease of operation, operating system, physical design, audio, battery aspects, and utility features (in order of importance).

RIM ranks highest in overall smartphone customer satisfaction with a score of 702 points on a 1,000-point scale. Treo manufacturer Palm (698) and Samsung (698) tied to closely follow RIM in the rankings.

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RIM performed particularly well in the operating system factor, which includes the speed of moving between applications and speed of sending/receiving emails. RIM also performs particularly well in battery aspects, including the length of battery life.

The study also finds that satisfaction is critical to future sales and profitability of smartphone manufacturers:

  • Highly satisfied owners are more than 50% more likely to repurchase the same brand than those who are not satisfied with their smartphone.
  • Owners who are “delighted” with their smartphone are 80% more likely to recommend a particular brand than an unsatisfied owner.

Smartphone Usage Patterns

The study also finds the following key smartphone business wireless usage patterns:

  • Among smartphone customers, 13% report having to get their device repaired, with software application issues, device locking up or display not working as 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 touch screen and 19% would like to have a TV integrated into their device.
  • The average reported purchase price of a smartphone device is $261. Palm owners report the highest purchase price at $313. Motorola has the lowest reported device pricing at $194.
  • The top five reasons given for choosing a smartphone brand ar: personal digital assistant (PDA)/personal information manager (PIM) functionality (50%), internet capability (48%), Bluetooth capabilities (46%), general ease of use (44%) and overall design/style (44%).
  • 35% 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%).

Smartphone Operating Systems

The study also finds that customer satisfaction varies depending on the type of operating system – RIM, Palm, Microsoft Windows Mobile or Symbian – being used in the smartphone device, as each system has its own advantages. For example:

  • Customers note that the Palm system’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 Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services for J.D. Power and Associates. “It’s critical for manufacturers to offer a complete package of functionality and ease of operation that meets the business needs of customers.”

About the study: The 2007 Business Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 1,089 business wireless customers who currently own a smartphone device. Findings are based on data collected in August 2007.

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