Is the iPhone Still More Personal than Professional?

According to recent data analysis from mobile analytics firm Localytics, iPhone application usage peaks in the evenings and on weekends and is much lower during the hours of a typical business day. From this, the firm concludes that the iPhone is still primarily a personal gadget as opposed to one that’s used for business purposes.

But is app usage the true measure of the device’s success at making corporate inroads? Or does it just show that people don’t play with their iPhone apps while at work?

In the Localytics study, which mined U.S. and Canadian app usage data for a period of two months, iPhone applications peaked at 9 PM EST during the week and maintained peak usage throughout the weekends. Also on weekends, they found that iPhone users generate 7% more traffic than on weekdays. On Saturdays in particular, app usage traffic starts at a morning low around 6 AM and then hits over 90% of peak usage by 11 AM. On weekdays, however, app usage is more concentrated in the evenings, slowly ramping up during the workday to reach peak usage by 9 PM EST.

Localytics: iPhone is Still More of a Personal Device

In reviewing the results, Localytics believes that the iPhone “continues to be a personal device most heavily used outside of working hours.” While we’ll agree with their conclusion that these results offer developers insights which can impact their marketing, advertising and promotional strategies, we’re not so sure that app usage offers a direct correlation to how much iPhones are used in the workplace. After all, like the Blackberry devices before them, the iPhone’s primary work-related task may not be app-related at all – it’s probably email and phone calls. And neither of those items, obviously, were tracked in the Localytics study.

iPhones in the Corporate World

Ever since Apple licensed Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology for full Microsoft Exchange support back in spring 2008, the Apple smartphone has been slowly gaining ground in the corporate world. In April of last year, for example, Forrester Research presented case studies on three major corporations that had deployed thousands of devices to their customers. The three companies –  Kraft Foods Inc., Oracle Corp. and Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. – said that “the benefits of iPhone over other mobile devices include a happier, more productive workforce and lower support costs,” noted Forrester analyst Ted Schadler in the report.

A later report, this one by Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore published in November, said that the iPhone “is making inroads into the Enterprise.” Specifically, he estimated that 2 million iPhones would be sold to big businesses by year-end for a total Enterprise market share of 7%, up from 2% in 2008. Whitmore attributed the surging popularity to a combination of four factors: user satisfaction, the onscreen virtual keyboard, enterprise-ready applications and sluggish competition in terms of developer support on other platforms.

Conclusion? iPhones Live in Both Worlds

Although it’s probable that iPhones are still used more as personal devices as Localytics suggests, it’s clear that business usage is trending upwards.

In order to determine the iPhone’s true “business usage,” though, we would need to see recent numbers of iPhone deployments in the corporate world in addition to numbers that show how many people use the iPhone’s email application for business-related communication purposes. Combined, that data would paint a clearer picture of how little or how much the iPhone is used as a work-related tool. Application usage alone cannot show this.

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