Corporate handheld users need too much handholding

The diverse range of handheld devices and smart phones whose ends users need help with their support is making life hard for the IT department because standardisation is elusive, according to Gartner's mobile analyst Ken Dulaney.

There will never be a converged device that suits everyone, he said, and the vast array of products being used in the enterprise is a dilemma for IT managers.

Put simply, employees see PDAs as a personal choice, more like a fashion item than a work tool, which is why selection is made with little concern for a company's IT requirements.

Dulaney described end user preferences as "fiercely independent" and if an employee doesn't like what their company recommends they simply go out and purchase their device of choice.

"A strategy of managed diversity is the solution. Devices in an organisation are going to triple very quickly. They'll be everywhere like shoes in Imelda Marcos's closet," he said.

And the worst offenders? Dulaney claims senior executives are the worst because they use their position to impose their preferences without fear of refusal.

Gartner predicts sales of smart phones will jump 140 per cent to 20.7 million units next year as demand for PDAs turns flat.

Dulaney said the Palm operating system will hang on to a slim lead in the PDA market next year amid a "battle royale" over smart phone sales between the alternative platforms - Microsoft Windows Mobile, Symbian, Palm and Linux.

"Symbian should leverage its entrenched position in the mobile phone space but Microsoft will be a fierce competitor," he said.

Symbian is a multivendor partnership between Nokia, Samsung, Sony/Ericsson, Ericsson, Siemens, Panasonic and Psion.

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