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Smartphones Become Clear Choice For Mobile Web Access

The upcoming 3G iPhone and its competitors have some industry experts even saying traditional cell phones are going the way of the dinosaur.

For U.S. consumers, the smartphone is the clear winner for mobile Web access, according to an In-Stat survey released Wednesday.

In its report, the analyst firm found nearly half of the respondents said they would choose a smartphone, with or without a mobile companion, for mobile Internet access. Ultramobile PCs and mobile Internet devices were also included in the report, titled "Competing Mobile Device Visions for the US: UMPCs, MIDs, and Smartphones."

"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," In-Stat analyst Bill Hughes told InformationWeek.

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

Among its findings, In-Stat said:

  • 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 ultramobile PC, as long as it does not involve sacrificing the capabilities of a full-function laptop.
  • Those showing an interest in mobile Internet devices were unclear about how they would use these devices or where to buy them.
  • Many employees expect to purchase these devices for themselves, rather than have their employer supply these productivity tools

This survey comes at an uncertain time for the cell phone market. Wireless carriers love the revenue smartphones generate from data plans. Additionally, the appeal of sites like Craigslist on the go and the upcoming 3G iPhone have some industry experts saying traditional cell phones are going the way of the dinosaur.

But other data suggests that many U.S. and Western European users are flocking to midtier devices because of concerns about an economic slowdown and long contracts. The main objection for nonusers of mobile data technology is that users are skeptical of the benefits of mobile data and view it as a "luxury," according to In-Stat.

Many users were very interested in a mobile companion for a smartphone, but they had unrealistically low expectations for pricing, In-Stat said.

"The challenge of a mobile companion is that if you look at it as an external keyboard and a screen, then it's overpriced. But if you look at it as a way to turn your smartphone into an ultramobile PC, then it's cheap," said Hughes.

The survey was conducted among 1,759 respondents from In-Stat's technology adoption panel. The sample tends to be more tech savvy than a random sample, said Hughes.

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