I first started working in the wireless market over 15 years ago. The economy and the interest in wireless has clearly expanded since then–which is obvious. But what isn’t as obvious is that practices and business decisions that may make sense in another industry–computing or software–don’t stand a chance of succeeding in the wireless world–because wireless is different. Two companies that have seen success by thinking outside the gray PC box are Research In Motion BlackBerry and Apple iPhone. They both have created controversy over open versus closed systems. What everyone misses is wireless is different from the computing model because of the number of technologies and parties involved in providing a full solution. And what’s been provided as a full solution has been the most successful on the market to date. Both RIM and Apple are number two and three behind Nokia on worldwide market share for mobile smartphones (see our report: Market Share: Mobile Devices and Smartphones by Region and Country, 1Q10, May 2010).
Blackberry is arguably the most successful solution focused on the enterprise messaging market. That success was driven by end-to-end development and support from the client, to the server (BES) and the network. Having the control and the ability to provide an end-to-end solution made it a success. The only other platform to see that level of success, albeit focused more on consumers than business users, has been the Apple iPhone. It’s funny to see all the complaints about the iPhone and iPad platform, especially from developers, trying to get their applications approved for the device. Apple feels it needs to control the user experience and the applications in order to provide a more compelling alternative– and it’s right. The market success it has achieved, growing in three years from 0% to 15% marketshare by the end of 1Q 2010, and number three in global smartphone sales proves it. And users agree Apple provides a more compelling Internet, user and application experience. Apple is not going to give up control. However there is good news for enterprises. Those that join the Apple Enterprise Developers program will get to create, certify and download home-grown applications for iOS4, bypassing Apple and iTunes. The challenge will be whether enterprises will be able to create a compelling experience for its mobile workers.
So, having end-to-end control supports a better mobile experience. BlackBerry users see this with increased battery life, reliability and manageability (security) on their platform. Apple users reap the benefits of a better mobile browsing experience and a plethora of safe, secure mobile applications from which to choose. Android still has a lot to prove in this market and has no guarantee of success. One thing I do know for sure, it is going to continue to be an interesting next 15 years!
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