Choosing a Smartphone: The Hardware

My search for the perfect enterprise-class smartphone continues. Last week, you'll recall I was interested in finding out what people thought might be the dominant mobile OS in coming years, as well as learning about which mobile OSs you commonly support in your organizations right now. The polls are still open in that article in case you haven't voted yet. Today I'd like to get your opinions on the best hardware vendors for smartphones. But first let's look at some results from last week's polls.

It was interesting to see in both of those polls that Windows Mobile was initially the leader by a wide margin, but as more votes were cast over the course of a week, that margin narrowed significantly. For the question of which mobile OSs organizations are supporting, it's clear there are a lot of Windows Mobile devices out there, but companies do seem to be supporting a wide range of other devices. You can see the current break down in the chart below, but remember the poll is still open, so these numbers are still in flux.

BlackBerry, naturally, comes in fairly high, as I would expect. But the iPhone certainly has a higher number of companies supporting it than expected, particularly for a device that's never really been marketed to businesses. And even the relatively recent Android OS makes a fairly strong showing, considering the limited number of devices currently available for it. I'm introducing a poll this week just to see how many total mobile OSs you're supporting in your organizations. It looks like most of you are supporting two or more—gone are the days of the single-platform IT shop!


So if I was voting in the other poll from last week, about which OS is likely to become dominant, I think I would have stuck with the option of "No single mobile OS will dominate." It just seems like there's too much flux and too much uncertainty about how things will develop with these various systems. Of course, having choice and competition is great for consumers and end users; it's maybe not so great for IT departments that have to figure out how to manage the different OSs.

As far as my smartphone choice goes, at the moment I'd say I'm leaning heavily toward a Windows Mobile device. (Although, the Droid is still an awfully tempting choice if my IT department gets the email synch problems worked out.) But narrowing down to Windows Mobile hasn't really narrowed things all that far—there are still tons of devices and makers of Windows Mobile smartphones, even if all you look at is Windows Mobile 6.5. And why would you look at anything else?

Now it's time to hear from you about who you think are the best hardware makers. I've been watching commercials on TV for years from most of these companies—or rather, seeing but ignoring them. Besides, that's marketing. I want to know what real users have to say. For IT departments, who has been easy to work with? Which devices stand up to the casual batterings that real-world use doles out? Have you developed any preferences? Well, let me know in the poll below.

Also, I'm still keen to hear from readers about what features are essential for a business smartphone. Push email and easy Exchange Server synchronization seem like givens. But what about text messaging? Is that a business necessity or a business distraction? What about battery life expectations? Is a 5 Mega pixel camera necessary—for that matter, does it need a camera at all? Leave a comment—or send an email—to let me know what you think about these and other issues.


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