It may lack some vital business tools – no cut-and-paste, for starters – but it seems that Apple’s 3G handset is gaining followers who see it as more than just a fun device.

The iPhone has received the highest customer satisfaction marks in the most recent JD Power & Associates customer satisfaction survey of business smartphone users.

Out of 1,000 possible points, Apple’s smartphone received the high score of 778, with Blackberry-maker Research in Motion and Samsung coming in second and third with scores of 703 and 701.

The iPhone scores high marks for its design, features, and ease of use, but owners of Apple devices also paid the highest average price for their smartphones, at USD $337.

While the survey success doesn’t mean the iPhone is suddenly going to be enterprise phone of choice, it is yet another feather in the Apple camp’s cap following a couple of other positive news items over the past few days.

At the weekend, independent warranty provider SquareTrade released a report showing that iPhones are more reliable than either BlackBerry or Palm Treo devices.

The report, titled "iPhone More Reliable than BlackBerry, One Year In", analyzes failure rates for more than 15,000 new cell phones covered by SquareTrade warranties.

SquareTrade found that after one year of ownership, iPhone owners were half as likely as BlackBerry owners to have a phone failure, and one-third as likely as Treo owners.

After 12 months, slightly over 16% of Treo owners had experienced a failure, while just less than 12% of BlackBerry owners had their smartphone die on them.

Only 5.6% of iPhone owners had a critical failure.

Then at the end of last week, Canalys reported that Nokia’s market share dropped down to 38.9 per cent in the third quarter; which is down from 51.4 just a year earlier.

On the other hand, Apple jumped to 17.3 per cent, and RIM increased to 15.2 the same quarter.

Canalys credits some of the Apple and RIM increases to new phones and new marketing strategies.

In a statement, the firm said: "The introduction of the iPhone 3G in July and Apple’s expansion into many more countries helped propel the vendor to second place globally.”

The researchers went on to say that “it was ‘quite feasible’ to expect RIM to take the second place from Apple in the holiday sales fuelled fourth quarter, helped by new products—Bold, Storm and clamshell Pearl 8220.”

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