Android and Apple iOS will not beat BlackBerry

7 Nov 2010

Fanboys had better sit down before continuing, as I have some bad news for you, unless your particular tech obsession of choice is CrackBerry or Windows flavoured. Neither Apple iOS nor Android will beat BlackBerry or Microsoft as a mobile business platform any time soon, according to the latest market research.

But more of that later, first let's start with some confusing jargon. A newly published study conducted by Plantronics reinforces what I already know, namely that more and more people are working outside of the traditional office environment these days.

Well, actually, that's being a little disingenuous as in reality it confused me greatly by suggesting that people increasingly work in 'transitional spaces' and, to be honest, I had no idea what that really meant.  Delving a little deeper, it would appear that it means 'public spaces used while in transit' according to Plantronics. Translated into normal-speak I think what the survey was actually trying to say is that people are doing more work while on the bus, train or plane. And in hotel rooms, airport lounges or coffee shops for that matter. Anywhere outside of the office, other than the home environment in other words.

This should come as no great surprise, given that the likes of IDC were predicting only last year that one third of the world's workforce (about 1.2 billion people if you prefer) would be mobile by 2013. But I was still somewhat taken aback by the Plantronics numbers, which suggested that a majority (55.2%) spend some 20 percent of their working week doing their work in these transitional spaces.

Of course, this particular survey, coming as it did from a manufacturer of audio headsets, was geared towards convincing me that the most important factor to emerge from this change in working patterns is noise. Specifically background noise that impacts upon concentration, productivity and business success as a result of the distraction. I mean, how dare people talk in a coffee shop when I'm trying to work, have they no consideration? Actually, most of the office workers I speak to reckon that it's quieter in a coffee shop anyway, so I'm not sure what all the fuss is about.

Leaving the noise issue behind, and concentrating more on the inevitable march towards mobility in the workforce, another IDC survey caught my eye, this one being the catchily entitled '2010 EMEA Enterprise Mobility Survey' which questioned 1,240 end users in 13 countries about the latest workforce mobility trends within their companies.

Two things jumped out at me from this survey:

1. Consumerisation of IT is not an issue, and the so-called trend of 'bring your own smartphone into work' just doesn't ring true to the majority of people. Indeed, IDC reckons the response was almost unanimous in predicting an increase in company-paid mobility, as it calls it. Or 'I should bloody well think so' hardware provision as I call it. The type of hardware was the really interesting bit, as respondents to the survey predict a "heterogeneous world in terms of business devices" with smartphones seeing the largest growth at the expense of laptops. Tablets and netbooks figure to a lesser extent, but will still outnumber laptops in the office of the future it would seem. I can't say I'm totally convinced, despite being a fan of netbooks and smartphones. Sure I carry my iPhone everywhere, but I try not to write long reports using it. My netbook is another matter, but I'm not perhaps your typical small business user and my needs are fairly low-resource shall we say. I'm happy knocking out a few thousand words or doing some online research on the netbook, but it's not a true mobile office in the way that your average laptop can be said to be. As for tablets, well let's not even go there as I'm still recovering from the last time I dared suggest an iPad wasn't the ideal business tool. And talking of getting into trouble with the Apple fans...

2. When it comes to smartphones for business, Apple has a long way to go. The IDC survey suggests that BlackBerry is the preferred smartphone platform of choice amongst 'business decision makers' with Microsoft in second place ahead of Symbian. Apple iOS was fourth and Android fifth. What's more, IDC doesn't see any great change at the very top with BlackBerry predicted to still be number one in three years time. The only real change will be the decline of Symbian, as Apple iOS and Android eat into business market share.

So do you run a business and use iOS or Android over BlackBerry or Windows? If so, please let us know why. If you don't we'd still like to hear from you, just tell us why not.

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