Mobile workers are carrying fewer devices than they used to

Engangered species? Credit: garryknight via Flickr

Mobile workers carried fewer devices in 2012 than they did the year before, as tablets replace laptops and people don’t have to use multiple cell phones.

Mobility service provider iPass released data on the number of user devices and more in its annual survey of mobile workers. The survey covered more than 1,600 people.

It found that in 2012, users carried an average of 2.96 devices, which is down from 3.47 in 2011. The number of tablets people carried stayed about the same, but the number of smartphones, regular mobile phones, and laptops people said they carried all decreased.

As more businesses let people use their own personal phones to access corporate data, fewer workers end up carrying multiple phones, explaining the dip in phones. Laptop use may be declining as some people decide to stick with a tablet rather than replace a laptop.

iPass also found an unfortunate trend that may have its roots in BYOD as well: 42 percent of mobile workers said that they are limiting their mobile data use due to restrictions in their plans. “Mobile plan limitations may force users to decide whether to use their BYOD devices for personal or work purposes, which could be a potential productivity issue,” iPass wrote in the report.

With BYOD, more users may be receiving their phone bills and expensing all or part of it. Seeing that bill and the high cost for overages might be causing people to reduce usage.

As it is, iPass found very few people are subscribing to the expensive all-you-can-eat plans. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed use 2 GB or less a month. That’s the lowest tier for some operators.

IPass also found that there is interest in tablets beyond the iPad. It asked mobile workers if they planned to buy a tablet in the next six months and if so, which kind. Despite their poor market performance so far, Windows 8 tablets were almost in as much demand as the full-size iPad. Nearly 15 percent said they wanted an iPad and almost 14 percent said they would buy a Windows 8 tablet.

But the iPad Mini is in higher demand – 18 percent said they planned to buy one. Twelve percent said they wanted a Samsung Galaxy tablet.

Another indication that the iPad is losing some of its luster is that 17 percent of mobile workers in the survey said they’d choose an iPad if it was the only mobile device they could carry – that’s down from 22 percent the previous year. The iPhone reigns supreme: 37 percent said they’d choose it as their only device, up from  over 30 percent in 2011.

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