iPhone vs BlackBerry: Survey pits sexy against the suits

The "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" stereotypes in Apple's famous ad campaign have nothing on the findings from a new study of BlackBerry and iPhone owners.

The "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" stereotypes in Apple's famous ad campaign have nothing on the findings from a new study of BlackBerry and iPhone owners.

The survey, done by consumer electronics shopping site Retrevo, finds that the typical iPhone owner is a woman whose personal life is highly connected to her iPhone. The typical BlackBerry owner, on the other hand, is a man who cares chiefly that his BlackBerry is well connected to his company's enterprise e-mail system, the study concludes.

Retrevo asked 445 smartphone owners a range of questions about their lifestyles, demographics and smartphone habits. Even personal questions about, say, breaking up with a girl or guy via a text message or whether or not potential romantic partners' gadgets make them attractive were fair game.

According to this survey, five key findings help paint a picture of the "think different" iPhone owner and the "down to earth" BlackBerry owner. Yet Retrevo is quick to add that stereotypes can be terribly unfair.

1. BlackBerry for Guys, iPhone for Gals

Three out of five BlackBerry owners are men, while a little more than half of iPhone owners are women, Retrevo says. It's anyone's guess, of course, why this is the case. The Retrevo survey, however, alludes to an age old problem: gender inequality in business.

"It could have something to do with a larger number of males in corporate America using company phones connected to enterprise systems or that iPhones are just more fun to use," the survey says.

Although the iPhone has made gains recently in business, it's true that the BlackBerry is the reigning corporate champ. A survey of 600 smartphone users conducted by Compete earlier this year found that 73 percent of iPhone owners use their iPhones mostly for personal reasons like entertainment. In comparison, 59 percent of owners of BlackBerry and other similar smartphones use their devices primarily for work-related needs.

2. Geeks Are Hot?

There was a time when the stereotype of the geek with the latest tech gadgets was a guy who wore a propeller hat, pocket pen protector and thick glasses taped together. Today, though, the latest tech gadget can be as attractive as a Paris Hilton accessory.

Retrevo asked the question: If a potential romantic partner had out-of-date gadgets, would that be a turn off?

Here, iPhone owners and BlackBerry owners found themselves in near agreement. Thirty four percent of iPhone owners and 29 percent of BlackBerry owners think old gadgets on a potential partner are a turn off. "If you're looking to hook up with a smartphone owner, you better have the latest gadgets," the survey says.

3. The "Dear John" Text Message

iPhone owners are more likely to break up with someone electronically, say via text message or e-mail, than BlackBerry owners, the survey says. One out of three iPhone owners admitted to sending an electronic Dear John letter, compared to only 22 percent of BlackBerry owners.

"Call them old-fashioned," the study says, "but at least those BlackBerry owners have the courage to break up face to face."

Oddly, the study also found that iPhone owners are more "addicted" to their iPhones than their Blackberry counterparts, yet iPhone owners are less tolerant of significant others who spend too much time on their smartphones.

Twenty-five percent of iPhone owners said they had broken off a romantic relationship--probably via a text message--because a partner had spent too much time on a mobile device. Only 17 percent of BlackBerry owners admitted to the same thing.

Thankfully, iPhone owners and BlackBerry owners, alike, agreed that it was not a good idea to propose marriage with a text message.

4. iPhone for News, Sports and Porn

Judging from the survey results, it's a wonder how iPhone owners got through life before Apple came out with the iconic device. For instance, iPhone owners text slightly more than BlackBerry owners do. Thirty one percent of iPhone owners get their news and sports scores over the iPhone, compared to 19 percent of BlackBerry owners.

Simply put, iPhone owners do more with their iPhone--including surf porn. One out of five iPhone owners uses the iPhone to tap into adult material, as opposed to 12 percent of BlackBerry owners, the survey says. Perhaps that's not surprising, given the iPhone's many popular lifestyle apps like College Girls, Lingerie Heaven, and Bikini Blast.

5. My iPhone Completes Me

The study asked smartphone owners to characterize themselves, giving options such as extrovert, jock, intellectual, and media buff. Check all that apply, the survey said. iPhone owners rated themselves higher in every category than BlackBerry owners did.

Does this mean iPhone owners do more in life? Or maybe BlackBerry owners just aren't as enthusiastic about such labels. Maybe the App Store's 100,000 apps help iPhone owners establish their identities, much like the kind of car they drive. Or maybe BlackBerry owners see their smartphone as simply a communication device.

"Draw your own conclusions," the Retrevo study concludes.

Got a different take? Send me an email at tkaneshige@cio.com. Or follow me on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline.

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Tom Kaneshige

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