Smartphones are changing the way people do business, from allowing them to send a document through the Internet to finding the best possible route with GPS.
“The ability to stay connected and be more productive no matter where they are is the significance of smartphones for businesses. We look for ways to help businesses make their businesses more profitable, functional and efficient,” said Colleen Smith, spokeswoman for AT&T Corporate Communications, through an e-mail.
Kim Cooper, real estate broker and spokesman for the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors, said he can pull up a listing address and get directions by using Google Maps with his Palm Treo. Cooper can even access listings from the association’s mobile Multiple Listing Service (MLS) called Supra from his smartphone.
“If we are out showing property and we see a sign on the property and the client wants more information, we can get information about the listing, he said. A last minute showing can also be arranged,” he said.
Cooper said if he is out with a client looking for $200,000 homes, and the client sees a house he or she is interested in, he can look it up on the MLS to see that the house is a $300,000 home or that it does not have enough bedrooms.
It’s not just Realtors who rely on their smartphones.
According to a recent survey conducted by AT&T, more than eight out of 10 (81 percent) of small businesses indicated they use smartphones, such as an iPhone, Blackberry or Treo. Nearly all use their smartphones for voice conversions (91 percent), but a significant percentage also use smartphones to check their e-mail (78 percent), view data (53 percent), surf the Web (43 percent) and check or update social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or YouTube (18 percent).
Nearly 65 percent of small businesses surveyed said they could not survive — or it would be a major challenge to survive — without wireless technology, Smith said.
“Despite the economic recession, very few small businesses have cut back on their use of wireless technology,” Smith said. “Even businesses that reduced or kept their overall technology budget the same as in 2008 — nearly 80 percent of small businesses surveyed — have not cut back their use of wireless technologies and expect to rely more on wireless technology over the next two years, indicating its growing importance among small businesses.
The Phones Plus Verizon Wireless Premium Retailer on Hanley Avenue in Coeur d’Alene has had similar success with selling smartphones.
The phones are faster and people can get e-mail almost instantly like on an office computer, said Cody Johnson, sales representative for Phones Plus Verizon Wireless. Anything that can be viewed on an office computer such as Microsoft Excel or a PDF, can be viewed on the smartphone, he said.
Johnson said many business people are coming into the store wanting either a Motorola Droid or Blackberry smartphone. For AT&T, the most popular smartphones are the Motorola Backflip, the Blackberry Bold 9700 and the Apple iPhone.
Coeur d’Alene Tribe spokesman Marc Stewart uses a Blackberry Tour. The Tribe relies heavily on smartphones.
“They are a lifeline for Tribal employees and the Tribal Council,” he said.
You become attached to it, it’s like an extra appendage, he said.
Tracey Collins, superintendent for Victory Homes, said he believes people have become too reliant on mobile communications. Collins has an iPhone, which he said he gets a little more communication with it, but he pretty much would get that with a basic cell phone. His smartphone does come in handy when using conversion tables and a compass while out on a job site.
It’s also convenient for checking to see what the weather will be like. He said he likes to know what the weather is going to do if he’s pouring concrete. If the weather looks iffy and he takes the chance and pours it, not only will the concrete look bad, but the company will have wasted money too.
However working in construction, Collins said smartphones are not as hardy as other phones out there.
“I don’t think they’re quite as rugged as some of the phones that are out there for people that are in a little bit rougher trade like some of our framers,” he said. “I’m not so sure what they’re trying to sell is what everybody needs.”
About the Author: