According to ClickFox, a customer experience analytics company, Android and Blackberry phones require a lot more handholding by wireless companies than iPhones. Based on an analysis of more than 250 million wireless subscribers in the U.S., the costs are about $4 more per subscriber annually.

While $4 may only get you a large coffee in most U.S. markets, when you add up the costs per subscriber you start looking at real money. ClickFox estimates the additional support costs of RIM and Android phones hits carriers with an additional bill of about $149 million per year. (Still a pretty small drop in the bucket, though, compared to the carriers' actual revenues.)

ClickFox says that at one provider, customers were 36.5% more likely to transfer due to handset questions, and Android users were 76.7% more likely to transfer. Repeat call rates were also lower for iPhone users. Within 24 hours, ClickFox found that 30.55% of users were likely to call back, versus 29.46% for RIM, and 28.88% for iOS. Again, these are fairly small margins – but tend to add up in aggregate. When you have millions of customers, the small percentages matter.


The recommendations from ClickFox? Rather than suggesting providers only sell iOS devices, ClickFox says that providers should try to have hands-on tutorials of devices in stores, and that devices should be as personalized and configured as possible before handing over to owners. The company also calls for better and clearer tutorials on the Web and via Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems.

The ClickFox report is interesting but it shouldn't lead too quickly to conclusions that iOS is hands-down easier and cheaper to support than RIM or Android devices. Apple does quite a bit of customer eduction with iOS devices, and carries some support costs with its "Genius Bars," in Apple stores. Some of the reduced costs for supporting iOS by carriers is simply borne by Apple itself, whereas you don't see much in the way of dedicated Android or BlackBery stores.

What do you think about ease of use when comparing Apple, Android, and BlackBerry? Is iOS really easier to use? What do you want from carriers to make a smartphone experience better, especially from the enterprise helpdesk perspective?