Survey: Americans Confused by Smartphone Offers

Posted by: Olga Kharif on July 01, 2009

A survey of 1,000 American adults that was commissioned by Best Buy Mobile reveals consumers’ confusion over smartphones, which are souped-up cell phones able to download applications and to surf the Web.

Released on June 30, the survey indicates that 47% of consumers who don’t yet own smartphones are confused by the vast assortment of features and models available. Some 52% of women and 42% of men are confused about which smartphone to buy. Indeed, with smartphones representing the fastest-growing part of the cell-phone market, scores of companies including Apple, Research In Motion and Palm have introduced new mobile devices in the past few months. Lots of other companies, such as Acer, are planning to follow suit. As the number of smartphones available from carriers balloons in the upcoming holiday season, consumer confusion should increase further.

Is there a solution to this problem? Clearly, retailers, device manufacturers and carriers need to do a better job explaining capabilities and features of the different devices to consumers. That’s where Best Buy, which has stepped up its mobiles sales push, hopes to make its mark. Still, I don’t think consumers should expect any miracles. After all, manufacturers and retailers have tried but failed making PC and camera purchases easy. To make the right buy, consumers have to peruse product reviews and to survey friends. While, today, many people don’t research phones before buying, perhaps that should change. Consumers need to start approaching buying phones the same way they do laptops, and to start doing more homework.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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