The nation's small-business owners are expected to spend up to $375 million on smartphones over the next five years, outpacing spending on similar devices at larger firms, a new study reports.

According to AMI Partners, a New York-based market research firm, over 30 percent of U.S. businesses with fewer than 100 employees currently have a Blackberry, Palm or other mobile device to check e-mail, business calendars and contact info.

The study found that up to 20 percent of the small companies that already use smartphones are planning to buy new ones within a year, while 11 percent expect to purchase them for the first time.

"Small business are realizing the necessity to stay connected," AMI-Partners Research Analyst Yedda Chew said in a statement.

Chew said smartphones are becoming a low-cost tool that provides a "seamless connection between business owners and their customers and employees anytime and from anywhere."