Gartner denounces iPhone (again) and doubts the impact of Google Android

Gartner cautioned businesses and IT departments about the iPhone when it was released last year. Now that Apple is on the cusp of releasing the SDK for the iPhone and potentially opening it up to enterprise use, Gartner offers sobering advice once again.

When the Apple iPhone was released to massive hype and fanfare last June, Gartner doused the party with a bucket of ice water by saying businesses and IT departments should be "extremely wary" of allowing employees to use the iPhone for corporate work. Now that Apple is on the cusp of releasing an SDK for the iPhone and thereby potentially opening it up to enterprise use, Gartner has its bucket of ice water ready again.

Ken Dulaney, Gartner VP, distinguished analyst, and general mobile device guru, told the crowd at the Gartner Wireless & Mobile Summit today that he still can't recommend businesses adopt the iPhone -- even with an SDK. Dulaney said that he recently wrote Apple a letter in which he outlined several things Apple would need to do with the iPhone before Gartner could change its mind about it. The directives included:

  • Permit the device to be wiped remotely if lost or stolen
  • Require strong passwords
  • Stop using iTunes for synching with a computer
  • Implement full over-the-air synch for calendar and PIM

Dulaney didn't completely pan the iPhone. He said, "We still have to give Apple credit for resetting the bar in usability... The product is just on another level when it comes to usability."

However, he also compared the iPhone to the women he dated before he met his wife -- "pretty, but shallow."

As part of his "Annual Update on Mobile Devices," Dulaney also expressed skepticism about Google's forthcoming Android smartphone platform. He characterized Android as the latest champion of Mobile Linux, which has been badly fragmented and stalled out. He thinks Google will successfully lead the movement for Linux on mobile devices, but he also said that he doesn't recommend Android for enterprises for the following reasons:

  • Google is primarily focused on consumers.
  • Android will be ad-supported, but Google hasn't yet explained how it will handle the ads, and mobile advertising is going to be a major challenge because of screen size.
  • Because Android is open source and could be potentially customized by vendors, it won't have the consistency of BlackBerry or Windows Mobile.
  • It will be two to three years before it reaches a significant segment of the audience.

"Our conclusion: [Android] is a consumer play and you should probably stay away from it," he stated.

Other highlights from Dulaney's 2008 update on mobile devices included:

  • Nokia is going to focus on security and manageability for its next gen devices and go after BlackBerry rather than Apple.
  • Nokia: "They've done a great job of integrating the handset into the PBX."
  • "In terms of depth of functionality in e-mail, [RIM] is [still] the best."
  • HTC is now the leading supplier of Microsoft devices and "Microsoft loves them."
  • OLED displays will cut the thickness of phones in half. "It's going to be really neat."
  • He sees standardization coming to power supplies via Micro-USB and CEA-2017. Nokia and Motorola are about to adopt Micro-USB, which will soon be able to plug into laptop power adapters.
  • "We've always had a problem with power consumption in Wi-Fi." He said that Atheros chips will soon lead to a 70% power reduction for Wi-Fi.
  • "As you see this flood of devices coming into the enterprise, you can no longer have the kinds of standards you've had in the past." We're now in the era of "managed diversity" of devices.
  • "Take your phones out of the telecom department and put them in the help desk support group."
  • "Constantly test new technologies, before users do."
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