iPhone Is Tops for IT Pros, but Samsung Gaining

A survey finds Apple's iPhone is the top choice among IT service professionals, though Samsung handsets are gaining ground.

Handset manufacturers, not carriers, are responsible with the level of satisfaction customers have with their smartphones, according to a recent survey of nearly 900 IT service professionals by OnForce. The survey found Apple continues to be the most popular mobile device manufacturer for IT service professionals, owning approximately 35 percent of the market, but Samsung, currently at 20 percent, is gathering speed.

Samsung's competitive advantage seems to stem from the sheer number of different handsets available, which has allowed it to become the world's largest handset manufacturer. According to the survey, IT pros asked to provide the specifics of their Samsung model listed 32 different handsets in total. Apple, on the other hand, offers exactly one type of handset-the iPhone, which is expected to get a major upgrade Sept. 12.

"We've seen a steady increase in Android usage amongst our community over the past year, but that could change quickly with new hardware and software developments on the horizon for Apple, and the majority of IT service pros indicating that their next mobile device will be an Apple device," said Peter Cannone, CEO of OnForce. "Regardless, we've seen huge demand for our recently launched Android application, which is running on 247 distinct hardware/OS version combinations – further demonstrating the incredible variety of Android devices."

When it comes to carriers, AT&T and Verizon battled it out for the top spot in customer satisfaction, with Sprint trailing in third place. Only 35 percent of AT&T customers reported being "very satisfied" with the service provided, compared to 58 percent for Verizon, 41 percent for T-Mobile and 35 percent for Sprint. It appears the iPhone is keeping AT&T's customer satisfaction rating buoyed.

Thanks to an early exclusive contract with Apple to carry the iPhone, 67 percent of AT&T customers use the iPhone, compared to only 33 percent of Verizon customers. However, AT&T stands to lose up to 10 percent of its iPhone customers to Sprint and Verizon, which now offer the iPhone, once their AT&T contracts have ended. "Apple's strength in the mobile market for the IT service community is clearly driven by the experience the iPhone delivers," said Cannone. "Since AT&T no longer has iPhone exclusivity, the carrier risks losing market share."

Out of the functionality categories OnForce surveyed, the iPhone led in 10 of them, lagging behind Android users only in the maps and directions category – functionality that Apple is hoping to improve with the latest version of its mobile operating system iOS 6, which is replacing Google Maps with an in-house mapping application. A host of additional features, such as Long Term Evolution (LTE) capability, a bigger screen, more powerful battery and thinner design are among the expected upgrades to the iPhone 5.

"IT field techs tend to be on the leading edge and often prefer open systems like Linux and Android. However, based on our findings, significantly more technicians are likely to recommend iOS to a friend or colleague than Android," Cannone concluded. "Apple's strength in the mobile market for the IT service community is clearly driven by the experience the iPhone delivers."