Software wins as carriers lose influence

The mobile network is now the least important factor influencing smartphone purchases among business users, research by iPass shows.
Results of a global study of 1,100 mobile workers published today reveal that almost 75% of enterprise customers choose a smartphone based on its operating system compared to around 45% who make a choice based on the carrier and coverage available.
That places the operator behind factors including device battery life – rated by 63% of respondents – screen size (61%), and the number of applications available (49%).
Perhaps more worrying for carriers is that operators don’t even make the top five list among users aged 34 and under, with only 36% of smartphone owners in that bracket referring to the coverage available.
“Across the board we are finding that carriers had less influence on smartphone selection, as mobile workers gravitated to the smartphones with the most features and functionality,” iPass states.
The firm predicts Apple and Android will replace BlackBerry as the prime mobile software among business customers, with nearly half of mobile employees stating they will buy an iPhone after their current contract expires compared to just 19% for BlackBerry.
iPass urged businesses to get with the program in terms of supporting multiple smartphone and tablet PC operating systems, noting that 22% of mobile workers breach corporate IT policies by using un-provisioned devices for work at firms where strict smartphone policies exist.
The biggest security risk to businesses remains the physical loss of the smartphone, particularly if employees using an un-provisioned device don’t tell their IT departments.
However there are signs mobile viruses might finally be on the rise, with 3.9% reporting their unit had been hacked or attacked by a virus.
“For IT management, it is no longer about maintaining command and control - that ship has already sailed,” iPass notes.