Apple’s App Store might have 250,000 applications and the Android Market might be growing at an astounding rate, but neither is adequately prepared for the corporate world. Apple’s marketplace is doing better at offering corporate-friendly applications, but it still has a ways to go. It’s time more enterprise-focused developers start working on smartphone apps.
Touch screens are outstanding and they typically provide a fine experience for consumers. But for corporate customers that want to be able to type out a long document, answer an e-mail, or generally perform tasks for their jobs, touch screens haven’t proven to be ideal. The virtual keyboard in smartphones don’t cut it. Touch screens need to be improved before they can be truly useful to business.
Currently, Apple’s iPad is the only major offering in the tablet market. And for now, companies are forced to choose the iPad or wait for something better. That something better might just be the Cisco Cius. But that device isn’t coming out for months. The tablet market is sparse right now. It’s about time for a corporate-focused tablet to arrive that can best Apple’s iPad.
Speaking of the iPad, the device isn’t as enterprise-focused as it should be. Yes, it might be a fine device for some that want to check e-mail or quickly edit documents, but it doesn’t provide the security features most companies want. And there’s no way for IT to exert any control over user experience. The iPad is great, but it has a ways to go to become an ideal enterprise product.
RIM’s BlackBerry has historically been the go-to product in the mobile corporate world. But in recent years, the line of devices has slipped as more capable alternatives have come along. That’s because of RIM’s desire to be more Apple-like than RIM-like. But it’s also due to the changing mobile landscape. The BlackBerry is still widely used around the world. But unless RIM comes up with something unique and more useful, that might not be true in the future.
Apple has come into the mobile market and changed everything. As mentioned, Apple’s influence has caused RIM to try things that it otherwise wouldn’t. But RIM isn’t alone. Palm’s WebOS was inspired by iOS. And the entire Android-based-device market has grown out of Apple’s influence. Simply put, Apple has had a profound impact on the mobile market. And for companies that have stayed away from its products, that might not be the best thing.
Microsoft continues to promise big things from Windows Phone 7-based devices. And most companies are happy to hear that. But the software could scare some firms. After all, it seems to be ideal for consumers, and not so ideal for corporate customers. Plus, there is no telling if it will be as useful as the iPhone or as readily available as Android OS. Simply put, Windows Phone 7 is a major question mark right now.
Android OS is quickly gaining ground in both the enterprise and the consumer space. But companies should consider that many reports as of late have taken aim at Android OS security. For its part, Google has said that it has the proper safeguards in place to keep users secure, but some experts disagree. Android OS could soon be the most popular mobile operating system in the world. But if it isn’t as secure as it should be, companies will lose out.
The iPhone is a great device for some companies that don’t require the power and flexibility of BlackBerry OS. But it’s only available on AT&T’s network. And as long as it stays that way, a huge portion of the enterprise will find reasons to turn its back on Apple’s smartphone. Ubiquity has helped drive the success of the BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Android-based devices. If Apple’s iPhone isn’t available on multiple carriers, the corporate world won’t like it.
The decision to invest in a new line of devices running a new platform will inevitably come down to cost. And unfortunately for the corporate world, the mobile market is an expensive place. Not only do the phones cost a lot, but the plans are outrageous. And every carrier has found unique ways to get more cash out of customers. Cost issues will likely not go anywhere, but most companies would agree that it would be nice to see them level off.