J.D. Power report: Business users love their iPhones

There’s been a lot of argument about whether Apple‘s iPhone is a valuable business tool or just a consumer toy, but it looks like users have decided for themselves — a new smartphone study from J.D. Power and Associates found that the iPhone ranked highest for customer satisfaction among business users. It beat out more business-oriented competitors like Research in Motion‘s BlackBerry and the Palm Treo.

The most important issues to the people in the survey were, in descending order, ease of operation, operating system and physical design. These are all areas where the iPhone stands out, or at least holds its own. Also, smartphone users said they’re interested in the features that the iPhone 3G supports: GPS support, WiFI capabilities and a touchscreen. The iPhone has already taken the number two spot in smartphone sales, and although Nokia still holds a big lead, perhaps Apple’s in a strong position to gun for number one?

Basically, it looks like the iPhone won business folks over by being a good, consumer-oriented phone, then adding decent business capabilities, as opposed to being a business phone per se. On the other hand, by focusing on individual users rather than company needs, the J.D. Power study doesn’t really address Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney’s argument that big, “enterprise-level” companies shouldn’t start using iPhones yet. Customer satisfaction is one thing, but the security issues that Dulaney brought up are another thing entirely.

J.D. Power’s other findings include:

  • The average smartphone purchase price was $216, down from $261 in J.D. Power’s study last year.
  • The top five reasons for choosing a smartphone are, in descending order, Internet capabilities, email, overall design, Bluetooth capabilities and keyboard style.
  • Thirty-four percent of smartphone users download third-party software, including, in descending order, games, business applications and travel-related programs.