Small and home offices shifting away from landlines to smartphones

Small and home offices shifting away from landlines to smartphones

Summary: A new survey finds that small businesses are leaning towards smartphones over landline telephones to keep their workforces connected.


Many consumers have been opting to pay only for cell phone plans over landline options for personal reasons for several years now. One would imagine that businesses must be the core customer base for landline telephone providers now, but even that is changing to some degree.

Multimedia research firm In-Stat reports in a new survey that smartphone purchases is expected to increase by up to 44 percent within the small and home office (SOHO) business sector between 2010 and 2015.

During the same time frame, In-Stat predicts that non-smartphone unit purchases will decline by 32 percent from 2010 to 2015, which could be referencing both landline and feature phones.

In-Stat analyst Greg Potter explained in a statement as to why small and home office companies are probably making this transition:

The SOHO market includes all firms with 1 to 4 US employees, and these businesses are realizing the benefits of having data access in their wireless handsets. Employees can now work efficiently either on the road or at home, with access to email and other business applications from their smartphones. This creates a more connected and engaged workforce.

Although In-Stat has broken down the results by 20 markets, it looks like we could see the most growth in the healthcare and social services verticals as smartphone purchases are expected to grow from 3.9 million phones purchased to 4.5 million during the reporting period.

In 2015, an estimated 27 million smartphones will be sold to businesses in the United States, and enterprises will be responsible for over 19 million phones. Related:

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Smartphones

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  • Would be nice to read the full report.

    On the one hand, looks like it's very detailed (breaks it down not only by business size, but by business focus/market). However, $4,995 is a lot of money to pay for access to a research paper.

    On the other hand, though, I'm not sure for some businesses how useful smartphones truly can be. Take, for example, a tax preparation office (worked for 3 tax seasons in a local Libery Tax Service office). Note that they use the franchise model: the corporate HQ handles final processing on the tax returns, & takes a cut of the fees collected, but ownership & fee collection is handled by the local franchise owner.

    First, although the office has to stay open at least one day a week in the off-season, it's still primarily a seasonal workplace, so any equipment & access plan acquisitions have to take into account the dropoff in usage (& therefore increase in cost to actual usage) during off-season. Second, since the area they're allowed to market in is strictly regulated by corporate (to prevent separate franchise offices from competing with each other), & marketing will usually involve either putting fliers/coupons on house door handles or leaving coupons with business owners, the primary need for 2-way communication can be met strictly with voice and/or text options (i.e. no need to have access to email, let alone Internet browsing). Third, the data security requirements to prevent data loss/theft (usernames/passwords for the computers, limitations on Internet access for the computers, final transmission & receipt of returns from corporate limited to the primary processing PC, rules forbidding removal of the PCs used for data entry & processing from the office, etc.) would not only require a greater lockdown of Internet capability than I believe is currently available on smartphones, but restrict the deployment of tablets & laptops, let alone smartphones, outside of the office...which is the primary selling point of said devices. Finally, there's the whole ergonomic argument, in that the sheer amount of data entry/typing required for the software would preclude replacement of standard keyboards with smartphone QWERTY keyboards. So, I would have trouble seeing this type of business decide to invest in smartphones instead of traditional communication options.

    Granted, that's just one possible example. However, I suspect that there are other types of businesses, or business situations, where the extra mobility & services available on a smartphone don't provide any additional competitive advantage to the small business owner

    However, what I strongly suspect, though, is that the assumption will be that small business owners will approach future purchases more from an individual consumer's perspective than an enterprise perspective; that is, if it's flashy & does something that the older device couldn't do, I'll go ahead & buy it, & then figure out how it will help my business, rather than truly decide whether it will help the business before purchasing it.
  • RE: Small and home offices shifting away from landlines to smartphones


    As a small business technology specialist who's been deploying mobility solutions since introduction of the Treo I can provide an explanation for the trend Rachel is describing.

    I don't think the smartphone is a specific requirement for small businesses moving away from landlines. It's part of the trend because smartphones are as capable as any modern digital phone system hand set. Many small businesses are deploying smartphones anyway and employees are finding it easiest to use the smartphone for 100% of their calls because it syncs with their email system's contact list, can voice dial, works with bluetooth headsets and the sound quality is usually on par with the landline. Also, its just one system to learn. Small business employees work from client and home offices so the portability of a mobile phone allow them to always be reached with one phone number. Also clients only have to remember one phone number.

    In my personal scenario I have an unlimited Verizon account with a Droid X phone. I have two sets of batteries and headsets so I don't worry about calling on the smartphone all day.

    Our office is equipped with a digital PBX connected through SIP trunks that does everything you could imagine. There is even an Android client for the system so the smartphone can ring like an extension. I still usually just make calls on the cellular network.

    I've been thinking about dumping our landlines - we hardly use them. One option is to put them on Verizon's new "landline" service where for $11/month/line they plug into a cellular receiver unit.