RIM has a stranglehold on corporate users and iPhone has made impressive strides into businesses. Is Windows Phone suitable and ready to get down to business?
RIM just keeps on chugging along despite constant predictions of it’s demise. Most of this continued growth comes from corporate customers that trust their BlackBerrys to get the job done. RIM recognizes the importance of the consumer market and is certainly doing what it can to capture more mindshare there, but it’s success comes from a legacy in the business world. In contrast, the Apple’s iPhone has the legacy of being a great personal device. I’m convinced it’s popularity in business comes from employees pressuring their bosses and IT staff into getting the iPhone simply because it’s what they wanted.
When Microsoft first started talking about Windows Phone they made a point of saying it’s a consumer-oriented product and that Windows Mobile would continue to be it’s business offering. I’m not too sure they actually meant that. Perhaps they did initially think that a possibility but I am sure they changed their minds as they watched interest in Windows Mobile take a nose dive. The only hold-outs are going to be those that need Windows Mobile because they are running a custom solution that has not been ported to another platform. Whether by choice or not, Microsoft’s future with business (for mobility) lies with Windows Phone. Is it a good choice for business though?
Business user POV
Let’s start by looking at this from the business users point of view. Will Windows Phone 7 do what most business users need it to? Well, that depends. As I have said in the past, what Windows Phone does well, it does VERY well. The OS itself is simple to learn and use and applications are very consistent. Windows Phone is very fluid and core functions load quickly and work well. Most business users need solid communications, good browsing and fast access in an easy to use phone. Windows Phone certainly delivers on these. Whether you like the UI itself or not there is no denying its simplicity and speed.
The email client is a joy to use with its quick access to unread, flagged and urgent messages. Exchange support is excellent and allows for multiple accounts. There is full html support as well as pinch to zoom, a feature you don't see in email often. Even Office document support (viewing and editing) is fantastic. Psst, I starting this a Word doc on my laptop. I emailed it to myself and saved it on my Windows Phone for editing.
This certainly doesn't mean that all corporate users will flock to Windows Phone but if they were handed one they would be able to do all they need.
Its fine that Windows Phone can do what is needed by users but will the corporations they work for feel confident enough to buy them? Perhaps not, but they really shouldn't shy away.
Windows Phone is available from a number of manufacturers and carriers. This is the kind of choice that helps IT departments stick with their current provider and answer the demands of picky users. Choice is good!
Since Windows Phone is easy to use there will probably be less need for user support. In the months I have been using mine I haven't had problems in figuring things out and it is just rock solid. The need for IT support should be fairly low as well, Exchange setup is so simple even I can do it. (gasp!)
Included with Windows Phone is support for Sharepoint, Microsoft's document sharing platform. I don't use this myself but any corporations that do will have the ability to add their Windows Phones to the server. OneNote is also built in, something that will appeal to those getting hooked on it.
Developing custom apps for Windows Phone is certainly an easy process but I'm not so sure how easy it is to load them on user devices. I'm not a developer, so I don't have answers on app distribution but in talking to developers I understand development is pretty easy. Honestly, most businesses won't need custom development anyway.
In saying all of the above I don't mean to suggest Windows Phone is better than other platforms but rather point out that for many it is capable. If a business needs a mobile platform that does email and browsing well with minimal intervention Windows Phone is a good option.