Choosing a Smartphone: The OS

I'm in the market for a smartphone, and I'm hoping that whatever I choose might be an enterprise-standard device for years to come. I've never owned one and had never used one until recently. And here's a more shocking revelation: I do not now nor have I ever owned any type of cell phone. That's right—that's one modern convenience that I've never found convenient.

In addition to covering Microsoft Exchange Server and Outlook topics for Windows IT Pro, I'm also responsible for the mobility space. But not having direct experience with mobile devices is somewhat a of a hindrance in this regard, so the powers that be here have determined that the company should supply me with such a device. Now all I have to do is figure out what to choose.

The IT department for Penton Media, Windows IT Pro's parent company, doesn't limit employees' choice of mobile devices. So within the organization, we've got BlackBerry devices, Windows Mobile devices, PalmOS, even iPhones. The Droid, I was told, is currently on hold because they're having some "email issues" with it, but after they get those kinks worked out, it too will enter the pool. But as I said at the outset, I want the device I get to be an enterprise standard—something you, our readers, are using and supporting in your businesses on a daily basis. That's where things at this point seem a little cloudy.

Just starting with the OS, the mobile space seems rather volatile. Obviously, we focus on Windows-based shops, but does that mean you're supporting primarily Windows Mobile devices? I suspect not. Microsoft's mobile OS has fallen well behind in functionality and the coolness factor to BlackBerry, iPhone, and now even Android devices. Windows Mobile 7.0 has been dangling out there for so long that you have to wonder if that carrot will be too shriveled up for anyone to want to bite when it's in reach, no matter how much hype Microsoft can put behind it.

So here's where you can help, readers. I've put together a couple of quick polls, which you can see below. The first one is intended to see how many of you are like my company, supporting multiple mobile OSs. The second one asks you to predict the future by letting us know what you think might shake out as the leader among mobile OSs in coming years. I plan to use this information to help me determine which smartphone to request.

In the meantime, feel free to share your stories about how your company selects what to support. Is that decision in the hands of the IT department or of end users? Also, what specific features are essential in a business smartphone these days? I mean, touch screens and GPS are nice, but are they necessary to get the job done?

Help me in my quest for the perfect device! Leave a comment below—or send an email—to let me know what you think.

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