Apple's iPhone ranked highest in customer satisfaction among business users, beating smart phones made by rivals such as Research in Motion (RIM) and Samsung by wide margins, J.D. Power and Associates said last week.
At the same time, nearly one of four smart phone users reported some kind of software-related problem, reinforcing the view that the devices are akin to small computers that sometimes suffer issues other mobile phones rarely face.
"These are mini-computers, and people do experience computer-like problems on these devices," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services for J.D. Power and the author of the survey results. "They have entirely different problems than a traditional cell phone."
The iPhone scored 778 on J.D. Power's 1,000-point satisfaction scale, primarily because users rated the smart phone highly in four of the five areas measured. "The iPhone's claim to fame is in the physical design area," said Parsons. "The appearance of the phone, the visual aspects, the weight and size of the phone, the size of the display screen. But it got very high scores in others areas, like ease of operation."
Of the five factors -- operation, operating system, physical design, features and battery -- iPhone owners ranked their device tops in all but the fifth. "They ranked the iPhone pretty low on the battery life," Parsons said.
Second and third places were held by RIM, maker of the BlackBerry, and Samsung, with scores of 703 and 701, respectively. HTC, Motorola and Palm followed, in that order, all with scores under the smart phone industry average of 681.
In last year's ranking, RIM had the top spot with a score of 702 out of 1,000, while Palm and Samsung tied for second with 698.
"Apple has clearly differentiated itself from the competition in areas that are most important to business smart phone users," said Parsons, reflecting on the iPhone's dominance of the J.D. Power ranking.
But smart phones come with their own set of problems, users reported. Of the nearly 1,400 people polled, 24% said that they had experienced at least one software problem with their phones in the past year. And significant parts of that 24% reporting ongoing issues.
"Forty-four percent said that they had had to reboot their phone at least once a week during the past 12 months," Parsons noted, adding that 34% reported an application error or application freeze at least once per week. J.D. Power did not break out those numbers by smart phone manufacturer, however.
"With the increasing number of features and applications that can be used on these devices, both the devices and software platforms will need to be more reliable," Parson said.
J.D. Power's survey echoed several polls released earlier this year by ChangeWave Research that said iPhone owners are pleased with their purchases. In July, for example, ChangeWave said it continued to see "incredible" customer satisfaction ratings for the iPhone and Apple, with nearly four out of five iPhone owners -- 78% -- reporting that they were "very satisfied" with their phone. By comparison, 54% of RIM's users said the same about their BlackBerry devices.
Last month, Apple announced that it had sold nearly 7 million iPhones worldwide in the three months ending Sept. 30, and had met its goal of selling 10 million during 2008.
This story, "iPhone Leads in Customer Satisfaction" was originally published by Computerworld.