IDC Mobile ePanel Reveals Small and Medium Businesses Switch Notebook Brands More Often

FRAMINGHAM, MASS., APRIL 3 — IDC's latest research in mobile devices has shed some light on the issue of brand switching among notebook users. According to recent Q1 2000 survey results from IDC's recently introduced Mobile User and Buyer ePanel program, nearly 50% of notebook users remained loyal to their brand when choosing their current system, while 44% opted for change. Overall, brand switching was more prominent at small and medium business sites than at large corporate sites. Small business notebook users often jumped ship in pursuit of increased features and functionality, while medium and large business users switched because their company switched vendors.

IDC's Mobile User and Buyer ePanel program tracks user awareness, adoption, usage patterns, and requirements for an array mobile IT products and services on a quarterly basis. Through online surveys of an established panel of more than 2,000 users, influencers, and buyers actively involved in mobile device solutions, IDC is well positioned to provide the industry's most timely and insightful market findings.

As mobile vendors focus more on small and medium business opportunities, branding to those segments will be key, and may not follow the same pattern to which corporate users do. "Mobile vendors building their brand within small and medium business markets are targeting users who have a higher degree of personal choice in the sales process. Product features and design carry a lot more weight here than among corporate users," said Randy Giusto, vice president, Worldwide Desktop and Mobile Research.

"Understanding and marketing to specific buying behavior in these markets can mean the difference between a successful brand and just pushing boxes." IDC research also revealed that funding sources change as the devices themselves get smaller. The major source of internal funding for notebook purchases tends to come from department heads and IT departments. For handhelds and cellular/PCS phones, department heads had even more influence, with users being the second most influential group.

Additional Key Findings:

— 83.6% of companies surveyed plan to buy portable PCs over the next 12 months, with the highest percentage among medium and large businesses

— 21.5% of companies surveyed plan to buy ultraportable PCs (those without internal floppy, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM drives) emphasizing the trend towards thinner and lighter notebooks

— Windows 2000 migration plans on notebook platforms matched that of desktop platforms, with small businesses having a faster migration rate during 2000

— Cellular phone connections and Wireless PC Cards are the top solutions for users accessing email and the Web wirelessly

— Awareness, interest, and intent to purchase scored high among respondents for technologies such as Bluetooth, WAP, 1394 (Firewire), and smartcards

The survey results also explored similar subjects on smart handheld device and cellular/PCS phone usage. Other topics included the usage of portable LCD projectors, printers, and digital cameras among mobile users, the implementation of various security measures at various sites, and user interest in smartphones over the next 12 months.

For more information on IDC's Mobile User and Buyer ePanel program, please contact Randy Giusto at 508-935-4712 or

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