Smartphone buyers guide for the enterprise: FAQs

Your guide on smartphone adoption in the enterprise.

Smartphone adoption in the enterprise continues to escalate with CIOs rating mobility as one of their top four priorities in 2012.

The highly competitive nature of the mobile communications market will continue to drive down prices, with smartphone sales set to surpass one billion units by 2015. This represents 50 per cent of the total mobile device market, according to Gartner.

To assist IT organisations with their purchasing plans, Computerworld Australia has prepared this enterprise buyers guide which provides a checklist of important purchasing criteria, such as platform selection and details the competitive landscape, to assist with the implementation of an effective mobile strategy. It begins with the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

What is a smartphone?

A basic smartphone is a voice-centric mobile device with enhanced features such as camera, MP3 player, video player, Java support and calendar and contact synchronization. They support data services such as Web browsing and multimedia messaging. Examples include Sony Ericsson’s X10 Mini, Nokia’s C3, C5, X3 and X5, LG’s GS290 and Samsung’s M5650 Lindy and S5570 Galaxy mini.

More premium devices offer integrated e-mail, social networking support and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Examples include Blackberry’s Pearl 9100, 9105 and Curve 9300 and LG’s Optimus One.

Top of the line smartphones with an average selling price above $300 include Motorola’s Droid Pro, Nokia’s E7, Apple’s iPhone 4, RIM’s Blackberry Torch, HTC’s HD 7, Sony Ericsson’s X10 Mini Pro, LG’s Optimus Black, Dell Streak, HP Pre III and HP Veer.

Do smartphones have an operating system?

Smartphones can have an open operating system or a closed operating system.

What is a closed operating system?

This is an OS that is proprietary to a single vendor with no support for native applications. Examples are Motorola’s Ajar, Sony Ericsson’s Hero and Samsung’s SHP.

What is an open operating system?

This is an OS with a software developer kit that is available to developers, using native API’s to write applications. The OS can be supported by a sole vendor or multiple vendors. It can, but does not have to be, open source. Examples are BlackBerry OS, QNX, iOS, Symbian, Android, Windows Phone, Linux, Limo Foundation, webOS and Bada.

What about connectivity?

Smartphones use the Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) network for voice and the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and 3G networks for data transmission. GPRS is a wireless network that can connect to the Internet.

The latest 3G and High Speed Download Packet Access (HSDPA-capable) smartphones offer enhanced multimedia capabilities. For even faster speeds, most smartphones have built-in native Wi-Fi.

Integrated offerings typically include High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA), Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), WiMax or Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies.

What will be the key mobile and wireless technologies through to 2015?

Gartner says many wireless technologies will coexist. In mobile phones and smartphones, technologies will include LTE, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC.

In consumer electronics, ZigBee, Wi-Fi and some cellular will be important. Quite a few form factors are already available for LTE. As of October 2011, there are 161 devices from 45 vendors already providing LTE support including dongles, phones, routers and soon tablets.

Satellite technology will be primarily used in remote locations when cellular coverage is unavailable.

However, GSM and GPRS will eventually be replaced by 4G technologies.

When will 4G be available?

4G is still a few years away but some of the features of 4G include support for peak data transmission rates of 100 Mbps in WANs and 1 Gbps in fixed or low-mobility situations (field experiments have achieved over 2.5Gbps).

Many technologies have competed for inclusion in the 4G standard, but they share common features, such as orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM), SDR and multiple input/multiple output (MIMO). 4G technology will be all-IP and packet-switched.

Is a smartphone necessary if staff already have a tablet device?

This really depends on how the device will be used. The popularity of tablets will not impact smartphone sales, according to Gartner. This is because tablet buyers will not give up their smartphones. Instead they will look to share applications across devices from smartphones to tablets, and sometimes notebooks.

This is particularly true in the enterprise where each device has a specific purpose and smartphones are a companion device to a tablet.

Next: Smartphone buyers guide for the enterprise: Shopping checklist.

Part 3 — Smartphone buyers guide for the enterprise: Platform guide.

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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