Some Smartphone Love from SMBs

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Back in November, I wrote about a BlackBerry product introduction geared toward SMBs, a streamlined version of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. I also cited some interesting stats from a Computing Industry Association (CompTIA) survey, including that 44 percent of SMBs planned to purchase smartphones within the next 12 months.


A few months later, I mentioned Yankee Group research that found SMBs could boost their productivity by adopting consumer technologies, including smartphones.


So, it's not much of a surprise that Access Markets International (AMI) Partners recently found that 31 percent of U.S. SMBs say smartphones are integral to their business.


According to a CRN story about the research, 20 percent of SMB smartphone users intend to buy new phones within the next 12 months. Eleven percent of SMBs not using smartphones plan to buy one in the same time period. Of course, SMBs aren't the only ones buying the devices. Their popularity appears to be growing across customer segments based on data for 2008's first quarter, during which Gartner said sales grew 106 percent over the year-earlier quarter.


The popularity of smartphones with SMBs is no surprise, says AMI-Partners analyst Yedda Chew, as 13 percent of the SMB workforce is mobile. This number isn't too far off the CompTIA survey I cited in my earlier post, which indicated that 10 percent of SMB employees worked on-the-go.


For which functions do SMBs use their smartphones? Eighty-four percent of Blackberry owners and 68 percent of Palm owners access e-mail via smartphones, while 65 percent of Blackberry owners and 75 percent of Palm owners use smartphones to access calendar and contact information, according to the AMI-Partners study.


BlackBerry is the favored smartphone of SMBs, with Palm coming in second. I wonder if SMB adoption of the iPhone will pick up now that the price is falling?