News Analysis: Tying the success of your enterprise to any one specific smartphone can be a huge mistake. The best move is to create Web applications flexible enough to run across all mobile platforms.
In the week preceding July 4, Microsoft killed the Kin and T-Mobile killed
the Sidekick. And sometime soon, other well-known smartphones
will fade away, such as the iPhone 3GS and the original Motorola
This in itself isn't surprising. After all, smartphones
have stepped onto a treadmill of constant change as a way to keep sales up and
customers interested. Meanwhile, technology is evolving at a breathtaking pace,
and that is also helping to drive the rapid turnover of smartphone
You can already see those changes taking place. Palm, now
that it's owned by HP, is clearing out its inventory of smartphones by simply
giving them away for the price of a two-year contract. Apple has reduced the
price of the iPhone 3GS to $99. You can get a Droid on a two-for-one deal from
Verizon Wireless. Again, no surprises here. All of these devices have had their
time in the sun, and that time is past.
But the risk to an enterprise comes when this constant
churn doesn't enter into your planning. If you base your enterprise smartphone
use around a specific platform, for example by developing applications for a
specific version of a device or even a specific level of operating system, your
mobile application strategy will go down in flames in months, if not weeks.
Even deciding on a single class of smartphone, such as the iPhone or an Android
device, is fraught with danger. It only takes some mandatory upgrade to break
your application and put you out of business.
This means that while it might be tempting to take
advantage of the iPhone 4's new multitasking operating environment and create a
custom application for your company, you should think twice. The same is true
before you build something for Android 2.2 or Palm's WebOS. The future of
devices running all these operating systems is unclear and, one way or the
other, these platforms will certainly change. You need to be ready to deal with
Of course, this doesn't mean that you have to steer clear
of applications that work for your business and also run on smartphones. What
you need to do is avoid depending on any one single platform.
Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.
He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.