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Friday, May 30, 2008

U.S. Consumers Bonding with Smartphones

As categories of mobile devices converge, there are four primary types of productivity tools -- the ultra-mobile PC (UMPC), the mobile Internet device (MID), smartphones, and smartphones with mobile companions, according to the latest study by In-Stat.

The clear winner in an In-Stat survey of U.S. consumers is the smartphone, either alone or with a mobile companion, the high-tech market research firm says.

Nearly half of the respondents chose the benefits and capabilities associated with smartphones. Fewer than 10 percent indicated a preference for the capabilities of MIDs.

"Helping the smartphone's chances for success are the established and successful channels of distribution and the fact that the actual pricing of this solution is somewhat less than end-user expectations," says Bill Hughes, In-Stat analyst.

"That smartphones are established as a valuable solution today makes the sales process easier than for the other mobile device options."

The In-Stat research covers the U.S. market for four categories of mobile devices. It provides analysis of a U.S. consumer survey that asked questions about the devices respondents currently own, carry with them regularly, that they plan to buy in the near future, and what devices they plan to retire.

This research is meant to help any participant in the mobile device marketplace, including the software and accessories ecosystem, better anticipate customer demand and expectations.

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- Mobile companions for smartphones are also popular, but users have unrealistically low expectations for pricing.

- About one-quarter of users like the idea of the ultra-mobile PC, as long as it does not involve sacrificing the capabilities of a full-function laptop.

- Those showing an interest in MIDs were unclear about how they would use these devices or where to buy them.

- The main objection for non-users of mobile data technology in general, and smartphones in particular, is that users are skeptical of the benefits of mobile data and view it as a luxury. At the same time, they tend to overestimate the actual cost of smartphones.

- Many employees expect to purchase these devices for themselves, rather than their employer supply these productivity tools.