Apples well-constructed, tightly controlled App Store provides many of the benefits that used to come only with expensive middleware. Control, security and interoperability all come with the walled-garden app approach.
The big drawback of this approach, though, is that enterprise developers must jump through a bunch of Apples hoops before they can push out custom apps to their users. Even so, Apples rich APIs and SDKs make the development itself easy. Its just the vetting that takes time.
Smartphone outlook: One of the critical differences between the iPhone (and Android) and BlackBerry is that workers own their iPhones, while most BlackBerries are company-subsidized. This means that all sorts of security best practices can be executed on the corporate device, whereas users have every right to balk at any features they find intrusive on their own smartphones.
Smart enterprises, however, see the writing on the wall and know they must get ahead of this trend. If they dont provide a convenient and secure way for users to access the corporate apps they want to mobilize, many users will find workarounds and introduce all sorts of problems in the meantime.
While 3GS is a start with device-side encryption, the coming iPhone OS 4 should help ease ITs concerns even more. OS 4 is supposed to address such issues as encryption for data stored within apps, the capability to update device configurations over the air and the ability to require more complex passcodes. Apple clearly has the enterprise in its sights with these upgrades.
Current standing in the smartphone race: Microsofts mobile platform Windows Phone (previously Windows Mobile) is a classic case of good news and bad news. Lets look at the bad news first.
Microsoft has never been able to dominate the mobile sector the way it has with desktops. comScore found that Microsoft lost ground between November 2009 and February 2010, slipping by 4 percentage points to 15.1 percent market share. Microsofts drop was attributed to the rise of Android and continued growth of the iPhone.
Earlier, I mentioned that vendors could actually lose market share, yet gain subscribers as the smartphone market swelled. Not the case for Microsoft in these latest reports. Microsofts drop in the comScore study represented a loss of roughly 300,000 subscribers.
Smartphone outlook: The downward trend has to be troubling for Microsoft, especially since Windows Phone doesnt have the loyalty that iPhone and Android have. In fact, Windows doesnt even register on brand loyalty studies from the likes of Crowd Science which may or may not point to flaws in the study. Anecdotally, of the Windows Mobile users Ive talked to while covering this space, none have expressed much enthusiasm for the platform, noting that they adopted it mainly because they were locked into Windows server environments.
I promised some good news about Windows Phone earlier, and here it is. The negativity around this platform changed while I was researching this story. The newest smartphone platform, Windows Phone 7, is generating real buzz, and the early reviews are positive.
Trust Digitals David Goldschlag believes that Microsoft is finally getting it right with Windows Phone 7, which will launch later this year. Itll probably be another 18 months or so until Windows Phone really competes, for enterprise at least, but I expect Microsoft to be a major player going forward.
However, Windows Phone 7 won't be available until the end of the year, and Microsoft must tread water until then. Research-firm Canalys believes that Microsoft will lose ground in the run up to Windows Phone 7.