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Work-related internet-enabled mobile phone usage is increasingly impeding on our personal time, with the number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) owning the devices doubling in the past 12 months, according to the Sensis e-Business Report which was released today.

A staggering 50 per cent of Blackberry-users told Sensis that they occasionally respond to work emails outside of office hours and on weekends, while 40 per cent said they do this most or all of the time.

Of the respondents, which included 1,800 SME employees and 1,500 consumers, approximately three in ten said they were happy with the way Blackberry and other email-enabled devices allowed them to juggle their work and personal lives, while an equal three in ten said they thought the technology intrudes into their personal lives as they receive constant emails and phone calls which they feel they should respond to.

“Whether we believe these new devices benefit or impede our lifestyle, it appears we have a hard time turning them off,” said report author, Christena Singh.

“In fact, about half said they would be reluctant to give up the device.”

Though 36 per cent of SMEs and 10 per cent of small businesses now own a mobile phone with internet access, the technology is still in its early take-up stage, according to the report.

 

“I see the SME sector driving the growth in mobile email,” said i-mate marketing manager, Allison Caruk. i-mate manufactures a range of Windows Mobile-enabled devices that include a Direct Push Email function.

“[Members of] this sector of the market are quite often highly mobile but still need to keep in touch with their customers, and stay highly productive. I believe they are looking for cost-effective solutions that can help them gain a competitive edge. Mobile email is just that.”

Only five per cent of Australians on the whole own a mobile email device, a figure which is expected to nearly double over the coming year, according to the report.

“Our current product, the i-mate JASJAM, is one of the most popular devices on the Telstra Next G network. Each i-mate JASJAM comes with an email Wizard which i-mate have built so customers can easily set up some of the most popular email accounts like BigPond and Yahoo,” said Caruk.

“We continue to promote this product and the ability for people to access their work and personal email accounts via the i-mate JASJAM through a variety of promotions targeting end users and the channel.”

 

Other interesting statistics in the report included: 17 per cent of SMEs use VoIP; two in 10 SMEs have some form of satellite navigation device, either in-car or hand-held; more than three in 10 people receive five or more SPAM emails per day, with nine per cent reporting more than 20 per day; 86 per cent of Australian households have a computer of some sort, up four percentage points over the past year, while four out 10 households have a notebook, a rise of seven percentage points over the year; and half of Australians have ordered goods and services online and about six in 10 have made payments online in the last 12 months. 

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