iPhone Owners Don't Use Their Devices For Work? Yeah, Right.

We haven’t actually seen the details of it since a first look was given exclusively to the New York Times, but there’s a new Compete report coming out supposedly later today that claims only 27% of iPhone owners use their device primarily for work-related needs compared to 59% of owners with other types of smartphones (HTC, Blackberry, Nokia, etc.).

The NY Times reporter didn’t detail where these stats are coming from and how Compete reached their conclusions exactly apart from saying ‘smartphone users were surveyed’, but I consider the article’s headline (“Apple iPhone Owners Don’t Use It For Work”) to be quite misleading either way you spin it. (Update: the headline has since changed to something more accurate). If you have a Web-capable phone, you are going to use it for both work and play. Or does every person with a job who owns an iPhone also keep a Blackberry handy to whip out for work-related tasks (besides Erick)?

Having an iPhone myself, I can imagine that a lot of people are indeed using their Apple phones for personal reasons like entertainment (games, videos, etc.) a lot more than they do with other smartphones, but that is because the user experience on the latter devices generally sucks compared to the iPhone anyway. There’s a whole lot of well-known reasons for that besides the technical or design shortcomings: either third-party developers don’t find competing platforms compelling enough to create applications for them, or they do but the quality bar is set too low, and even then there’s no decent, central marketplace to download or buy apps from. But let’s not digress from the main talking point.

The Compete survey reportedly found that 73% of iPhone owners used their mobile devices primarily for personal reasons, but what isn’t detailed is how much time in total they are using their phones – which I imagine is a whole lot more than on other smartphones – and how much more efficient it makes them when they actually do use it for work.

For reference, a recent AdMobs Mobile Metrics report pointed out that nearly 50% of all smartphone web traffic in the U.S. comes from iPhone devices. I’d also like to point to a recent study by JD Power and Associates which ranked iPhone highest in customer satisfaction, not for everyday consumers (those the device was initially targeted at, I might add), but for “business wireless smartphone users.”

I’d also argue that the time I spend using my iPhone for professional reasons may be much less than I used to spend battling the Windows Mobile OS on my previous smartphone (an HTC), but that it increased my productivity when I’m on the go five-fold easily, and isn’t that what really matters?

This tidbit from the article bothered me as well:

The firm found that getting local forecasts, turn-by-turn directions and nearby restaurant recommendations were the most popular location-aware iPhone applications.

Undoubtedly true, but which mobile worker hasn’t at one point used his smartphone for directions or restaurant recommendations directly related to his or her job? How can Compete possibly claim these services are being used for personal use only?

Let’s call it like it is: while not perfect, the iPhone is a joy to use from an individual standpoint, whether it’s for business or personal reasons, and all the other device manufacterers are (or should be) playing catch-up when it comes to physical design, UI and general ease-of-use of navigation.

I use my phone a whole lot more than I used to in the past, and even I would answer a survey question asking for my behavior that I use it primarily for personal reasons, but does that in any way imply that I don’t use it for work?

The answer is a big fat no, quite the contrary, thank you.