Gartner launched its 11th annual Mobile and Wireless Summit in Chicago on Monday, March 3, by asserting that mobile phones themselves are losing importance, while the value of platforms and services is rising significantly -- at least for enterprises.
In the opening keynote, Gartner's Nick Jones, VP Distinguished Analyst, said, "The technology is good enough and now the interest is moving toward services... The market is changing to be a services market."
Jones noted that all of the major carriers in the United States want to be a player in services, but they are increasingly under pressure to create open platforms and are moving toward becoming solely "bit pipes." Another name that is sometimes used is "dumb pipes."
Meanwhile, platforms such as Nokia S60 (based on Symbian), Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry are dominating the enterprise smartphone market and will continue to be the drivers of innovation in corporate mobility. This will soon include Google Android as well, although Jones doesn't expect Android to be a major player for at least another two years.
However, Jones does see Android as the potential savior for the Linux smartphone market. "Mobile Linux is a mess," he said. "It's too fragmented." He's definitely right about that.
Despite downplaying devices for the enterprise, Jones sees the next few years as an exciting time for the mobile industry. "I think these are going to be the most interesting years since mobile started," he said. Jones pinpointed two major battles ahead:
1.) Cisco vs. Microsoft in unified communications (which will, in turn, have a major impact on enterprise mobility)
2.) Google vs. Nokia vs. Microsoft vs. others in services and mobile advertising
From a services perspective, Jones presented the following chart comparing several of the top players:
Despite his remarks about devices, Jones also admitted that devices have a lot of buzz and innovation right now, and that more and more users are buying their own devices and bringing them into the enterprise. He said that IT departments need to have a strategy to deal with employee-owned devices, beyond just saying 'No.' I'll take up that topic in a separate article.
Do you agree with Gartner that there's a big platform war brewing between Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Nokia S60, and eventually Google Android? Will the platform war eventually trump the mobile devices? Join the discussion.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).