November 14, 2007 New research indicates that smartphones are moving out of the realm of "clever gadgets" and increasingly becoming a productive tool for business users with a report from In-Stat estimating that sales will grow by 30% annually over the next five years and exceed the unit sales for laptops.

The research, “Smartphones 2007: The ARPU Generation Machine”, covers the worldwide market for smartphones and shows that users are experiencing significant value from their smartphones and as a result, they are downloading more applications and generating higher usage as measured by average revenue per user (ARPU) for wireless carriers. Other key statistics to emerge from the research include predictions that smartphone operating systems (other than the Palm OS) will grow at double digit rates over the next five years, smartphone users that travel have twice the ARPU of a typical feature phone user. Smartphone use is expected to grow mostly from use as a laptop replacement and as a tool to help manufacturers develop feature phones.

In-Stat analyst Bill Hughes notes that “Because of the value users are finding, organizations are slowly taking ownership of smartphones and data applications used for business purposes. Rather than having overcomplicated reimbursement plans, more organizations are finding it more expedient and economical to treat wireless voice and data services as a business expense when they use smartphones.”