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iPad and other tablets score high for business use

Smartphone survey shows interest in iPad, other tablets

By , Network World
March 25, 2010 09:35 AM ET

Network World - A new survey of U.S. smartphone users reveals a majority of them want to use mobile devices, including tablets like the upcoming Apple iPad, for work as well as personal activities. Yet the same users also see only limited productivity gains because they can access so little of the personal and business information they need.

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The online survey polled 2,443 respondents, all adults with mobile phones. Of these, 770 were smartphone users. The study was commissioned by Sybase, which sells several mobile applications for enterprise customers, and conducted by Zogby International, which polled its online panel, a cross section of the U.S. adult population. (You can see the full set of slides here.) 

The sample was asked how they would use a tablet device, which has video, office and e-mail applications, citing the iPad as an example. Not very surprisingly, entertainment-related uses were two of the top three picks. Forty-eight percent chose "watching movies, video, television programs" and 35% said they'd do "gaming and other entertainment."

What was surprising was the No.1 use: 52% said they'd use an iPad-like tablet for "conducting work on the device."

Smartphone users are more likely than standard cell phone users to do work-related activities with their phone. Of standard phone users, 46% say they use their phone for both work and personal tasks. But 79% of smartphone users say they do both tasks.

But regardless of the phone, users say they can access only a small fraction of the personal and business data they're interested in. The question asked was this: "How much of your data would you estimate you currently have access to on your mobile phone."

The question could be interpreted in different ways. For example, are users accessing data that only resides on, or has been transferred to, their mobile phone? Or is the phone a means for accessing data that may reside elsewhere on corporate or Web based servers?

However it was understood, users were clear that they want more access to more data. For "personal data" nearly 60% of the respondents say they access less than 10% of it on the phone. Nearly 70% say they access less than 10% of their "work data." Fewer than 1 in 10 respondents say they can access over 50% of both kinds of information.

The results were even worse when the question focused on enterprise-specific applications such as CRM.

The question was: "How much of your company's applications (such as spreadsheet applications, CRM applications and e-mail) would you estimate you currently have access to on your mobile phone?"

Seventy-two percent of the sample estimated less than 10% of these were accessible. Just over 8% estimated they access more than 51% of these applications.

The survey found very modest productivity gains, at least as self-assessed by the respondents. They were asked "Do you think devices such as the smartphone and the iPad make us more or less productive at work?"

Half of the sample selected "somewhat more productive." One quarter chose from several responses, with 9% saying "no difference" and almost the same percentage saying "somewhat less productive." Only 1 in 4 say these devices have us "much more productive."

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