BlackBerry maintains a lead, but Apple's iPhone is making gains among small business owners, says an AMI report.
The small to medium-size business market is fertile ground for
breaking Research in Motion's corporate smart phone hegemony, a
report by IT research firm AMI-Partners indicated. Apple's iPhone, in
particular, is making headway, especially with smaller businesses
(SBs), according to company research. "The wealth of applications
available for the iPhone makes it an attractive option for SBs," noted
Karen Nielsen, senior telecom analyst with AMI. "Small businesses are
less apt to have in-house IT support, making the application-rich
iPhone an attractive multi-use option."
AMI's study, 2010 The Dynamics of BlackBerry & iPhone Use - U.S.
SMB Market, shows a solid BlackBerry position along with a growing
iPhone presence. The report also finds the iPhone is making its way
into the enterprise via employees, predominantly with SBs, while SMBs
with high BlackBerry penetration tend to have in-house IT staffs. As
the mobility features of smart phones become standard, features and
applications would drive preference, especially among SMBs with little
or no in-house IT support, the report predicted.
In addition, the single vendor smart phone model within individual SMBs
is fading. According to Nielsen, "Employees are driving a dual/multiple
smart phone model by purchasing their preferred brand for personal
reasons, and then using it for corporate access." This, in turn, is
causing businesses to support multiple brands, so that employees don't
have to carry more than one device.
The AMI study also revealed that SMBs supporting multiple devices have
unique characteristics, many of which are favorable for smart phone
suppliers, application vendors and telcos. For example, SMBs with both
BlackBerrys and iPhones have the highest average number of employees
and the highest average revenues, and are more optimistic about their
business growth: those SMBs with both iPhone and BlackBerry phone use
are the most likely to hire over the next year.
An AMI survey on smart phones in the SMB market uncovered a steadfast
BlackBerry position and a "somewhat unpredictable yet completely
viable" position for the iPhone. In this study, the company considered
SMBs with iPhones, with BlackBerrys, and with both iPhones and
BlackBerrys to consider their similarities and differences. "Vendors
and retailers must prepare themselves for a multiple smart-phone
environment among SMBs," the report stated. "This has already begun
with BlackBerry and iPhones. The landscape will only get more expansive
with other compelling operating systems in the market."
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.