Mobile Device Battles Heat UpBy Don Reisinger | Posted 08-02-2010
Mobile Device Battles Heat Up
Some summers bring about few major stories in the tech industry. Professionals go on vacation and companies wait for the fall to make their major product announcements. This year has been entirely different, particularly when it comes to the mobile and wireless space. The summer of 2010 has been jam-packed with information that will help CIOs make the right tech-buying decisions going forward.
In the smart phone market, Research In Motion (RIM) revealed the new BlackBerry Torch, which will be available August 12 in the U.S. from AT&T. The new capacative-touchscreen smart phone, which also features a slideout QWERTY keyboard, is the first to use the new BlackBerry OS 6. Meanwhile, Apple is attacking Motorola's Droid X in an attempt to gain an upper hand over the Google Android OS device. On the tablet front, Microsoft, which has heretofore allowed Apple to dominate the tablet market, made it clear that it's gunning for Cupertino later this year when its own lineup of slates hit store shelves.
RIM Debuts BlackBerry Torch
With the introduction of the BlackBerry Torch 9800 and its new BlackBerry OS6, Research In Motion appears to grasp the new dynamic of enterprise mobility: that it's necessary to win the hearts and minds of consumer users nowadays in order to keep market share growing in the business environment.
There is no doubt that BlackBerry devices remain the de facto standard for enterprise mobility in North America, but contenders such as iPhone and Droid have been making steady inroads. This speaks to the change from old-school "top-down" enterprise mobility. IT is now finding itself answering a growing hue and cry from employees to be able to connect the mobile device of their choice to enterprise email and business applications.
The "big reveal" of the Torch -- RIM's first capacitive touchscreen device with a slide-out keyboard -- at an event in New York City on August 3 focused heavily on the consumer-friendly media and social networking capabilities of the device and its new operating system. But the device readily meets the needs of business users who are increasingly looking to marry work and personal lives into a single device, while its new operating system gives IT new levels of granularity into how users profile and permissions are set up.
Why you should care: Given the importance of RIM technology and BlackBerry devices in the corporate world, you'll probably be watching the event closely. Right now, RIM's BlackBerry OS is nice, but it pales in comparison to the competition when judged on usability. If BlackBerry 6 is as good as RIM says it is, you might find little reason to switch from the BlackBerry platform going forward.
Apple Attacks Motorola
In an attempt to bring other smartphone makers into its antenna debacle, Apple released a video showing the Motorola Droid X allegedly experiencing antenna problems when being held in a "death grip." As expected, Motorola says Apple is wrong and claims that the Droid X's antenna doesn't suffer from the iPhone 4's signal problems.
Why you should care: If you have workers who need to be away from the office, having a good, solid connection to the cell tower without dropping calls is a necessity. If you are looking for the best smart phone to put in the hands of your employees, the iPhone 4's signal problems, and how Apple is handling the situation, should probably be kept in mind.
Microsoft Meeting Abuzz With Windows 7 Tablet Talk
At Microsoft's Financial Analyst Meeting in Redmond, WA, July 29, 2010, the company focused much of its time on tablets. While few product details were provided -- and the company didn't elaborate on the user experience that Windows 7 might deliver on a touchscreen -- Microsoft made it clear that it plans to take on Apple and beat the iPad wherever it can.
Why you should care: A Windows 7-based tablet could drastically change your company's operation. Employees who are using smart phones or netbooks may want to shift to tablets as the go-to mobile device for business in the coming years. That said, deciding which tablet to use will be difficult. Should you choose Apple's iPad because of its slick design and features? Should you opt for the Android-based Cisco Cius when it comes out? Or should you go with a Windows 7-based tablet to keep employees using the same operating system? Windows tablets could make that decision harder than you think.
Android 2.2 Upgrade for Droid Smart Phones
Motorola Droid phones, including the original Droid and the Droid X will be upgraded to Android 2.2 starting this week. The mobile operating system is the latest in the Android line, featuring improved enterprise support, some design tweaks, and perhaps most importantly, Flash capabilities to improve mobile Chrome's browsing experience.
Why you should care: Google's Android operating system has heretofore been somewhat useless to enterprise customers due to its lack of corporate focus. But with Android 2.2, Google is making a real push for you. And since the Droid X is widely touted as the best Android-based device on the market, opting for that device over an iPhone -- or even a BlackBerry -- isn't such a bad idea any longer. It's at least something to consider as you make your buying decisions.
iPhone 4G Speculation Abounds
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission approved the Samsung SCH-r900, the first 4G device for Verizon's new LTE network. Currently, the carrier is testing its network in Boston and Seattle. With that news, rumors started up claiming a 4G version of the iPhone could be made available on Verizon's network sooner rather than later. The device could run on both 3G and 4G, depending on where those services are available.
Why you should care: As a CIO, choice means everything to you. The last thing you want is to be forced into a buying decision because of arbitrary restrictions, like those placed on iPhone availability. If Apple finally brings its device to Verizon's service, and it runs on a 4G network to boot, your organization will benefit. Not only will you have the option of using the iPhone on either of the two largest cellular networks in the U.S., but if you're in a big city with 4G availability, you can put high-speed service in your employees hands. Watch out for this one. It could be a major improvement over anything else on the market.
Additional reporting for this feature was provided by Susan Nunziata, Editor In Chief of CIO Insight.