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Perhaps, companies like Intel Corp. and Via Technologies pin a lot of hopes on mobile Internet devices (MIDs) that are built to allow Internet access on the first place, but a recent survey of customers in the U.S. shows that the majority still prefers smartphones over relatively bulky MIDs.

As categories of mobile devices converge, there are four primary types of productivity tools – the ultra-mobile PC (UMPC), the mobile Internet device (MID), smartphones, and smartphones with mobile companions (like Palm Foleo or Nokia N810). The clear winner in survey of U.S. consumers by In-Stat market research company is the smartphone, either alone or with a mobile companion. Nearly 50% of respondents chose the benefits and capabilities associated with smartphones, whereas fewer than 10% indicated a preference for the capabilities of MIDs.

It is interesting to note that about 25% of users like the idea of the ultra-mobile PC, as long as it does not involve sacrificing the capabilities of a full-function laptop. Meanwhile, those showing an interest in MIDs were unclear about how they would use these devices or where to buy them.

“Helping the smartphone’s chances for success are the established and successful channels of distribution and the fact that the actual pricing of this solution is somewhat less than end-user expectations. That smartphones are established as a valuable solution today makes the sales process easier than for the other mobile device options,” says Bill Hughes, an In-Stat analyst.

The main objection for non-users of mobile data technology in general, and smartphones in particular, is that users are skeptical of the benefits of mobile data and view it as a “luxury.” At the same time, they tend to overestimate the actual cost of smartphones. Moreover, many employees expect to purchase these devices for themselves, rather than their employer supply these productivity tools.

The research firm has found that mobile companions for smartphones are also popular, but users have unrealistically low expectations for pricing.

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