Mobility

Smartphone device loyalty will trump standardization in the enterprise

Blogger Paul Mah recently got an iPod Touch. He came to some conclusions about the future of smartphones in the enterprise, device loyalty, and multiple platforms.

Some weeks after Apple launched the third-generation iPod Touch, I finally succumbed and purchased the 32GB model of the device. While downloading from the hoards of applications in the App Store, I started thinking about the perpetual debate about whether its older brother, the iPhone, is "enterprise ready," and what the future of smartphones is in the enterprise.

Is your mobile device enterprise ready?

When you think about it, users don't care if their favored Smartphone platform is "enterprise ready" or not. Most folks just want to continue using their device of choice and, where possible, bring it into their work environments. While security restrictions do keep unapproved devices out of certain installations, the gap in device security and compliance can only narrow and possibly even lose relevance one day.

Ultimately, security managers and IT professionals need to understand that the masses will go with the device that captures their imagination. When that happens, these same devices will eventually proliferate in the enterprise.

Device loyalty

Regular readers to TechRepublic will remember that I am a BlackBerry user. In terms of smartphone usage, I was on two different Windows Mobile devices for a period of time before making the switch to a BlackBerry a couple of years back. In fact, I wrote a number of articles highlighting the merits and differences between Microsoft's ExchangeSync and RIM's push mail technology.

Back to the topic of device loyalty — I have 35 contacts in my BlackBerry Messenger, and none of these BlackBerry users have switched platforms so far. In recent years, the same appears to be true of the Apple iPhone. It is very interesting in a way — as I have friends who are on the iPhone and others who are on the BlackBerry, and I honestly cannot imagine any of them switching camps.

In a nutshell, smartphones are engendering a fierce device loyalty that will see them being brought into the office, regardless of any attempts by companies to standardize on one platform. As such, one can expect any attempt to force a single device implementation in the enterprise to be extremely difficult and bordering on impossible.

Ease of programmability

Have you ever wondered at the deluge of applications for the iPhone platform? Of course, a large part of the reason behind it would be the App Store and the innate appeal of the iPhone. What is less well known, though, is the fact that there are some challenges when it comes to coding for the BlackBerry.

One aspect is related to its user interface; in a nutshell, the basic GUI widgets just don't cut it. As such, many application developers are forced to start from basic primitives and put in extraordinary efforts to imitate what an iPhone programmer could probably do in five minutes with a few drags and drops of the mouse.

There are other challenges, too, but don't take my word for it. Check out this long but very interesting account of the development efforts as written by Marcus Watkins, the developer of the popular PodTrapper podcast software.

What are your thoughts on the use of mobile smartphones in the enterprise a year or two from now? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

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