By Jim Grodnik, Gartner
With 3 billion mobile phones on the planet, mobile devices have become mainstream to business, said to Ken Dulaney, Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst, in his Thursday presentation at the Yacht & Beach.
The prospects for the major suppliers of mobile enterprise devices, how various operating system platforms will fare in business, and how businesses should construct policies to deal with the use of mobile devices business were the focus of the session.
Mr. Dulaney said that since the introduction of the iPhone, software platform providers have awakened to the reality of a compelling user experience. Creating the right navigation and control models for a small screen are a real challenge. And then there are the questions of how many keys to place on the front of the screen, touch versus keyboard, and portrait versus landscape.
“The science of user interface has become big business and a strong marketing message for the winning platform providers,” said Mr. Dulaney, who has been recognized by Adweek magazine as one of the top 20 technology industry analysts.
Dulaney said two basic design choices are emerging for smartphone designs: task-activity-oriented and application-oriented. Research In Motion (RIM) and Nokia are about the task at hand, providing information about status of important applications, he said. Microsoft is also more task-oriented, whereas Apple is on the opposite end, focusing fully on what applications are available to the user.
Mobile devices have evolved into three ergonomic designs that are not expected to undergo change during the next five years:
• Open face, in which the physical user interface is available without manipulating the device to gain access
• Clamshell, in which the keyboard and main screen fold onto each other.
• Slider, in which the keyboard slides out from underneath the screen.
These form factors exist across the entire continuum of mobile devices, from the very smallest (basic phones) to the very largest (laptop computers).
“Human factors have dictated these designs during the formative years of mobile device evolution and, given that humans aren’t slated for many changes over the coming planning horizon, these designs will remain permanent except for modifications in styling, size and weight,” said Mr. Dulaney.
Portrait and landscape modes are available in all designs and affect how the device is used. With portrait mode, more individual data items can be displayed, although each item shows less data. With landscape mode, fewer data items are shown, but more data from the individual item can be displayed.
Dulaney said he typically fields customers’ questions about mobile devices in four key areas:
- How attractive the device will be to the user base
- How well the device and its supplier support enterprise efforts
- How secure the device is, either through native onboard capabilities or through third-party products
- How strong the tools are for the development of applications to include the development environment and back-end application support
Filed under: Sessions