Which mobile platform is best for business?

With three main smartphone platforms taking up the lion’s share of business communications, it can sometimes be hard to decide which is best for you business.

When deciding which operating system - or platform - is best for business, there are a number of considerations you'll have to take into account, such as which handles email in the most efficient way, whether browsing is clear enough for online applications, and which platforms are best to carry out multiple functions.

Blackberry for example, syncs all office applications including POP and IMAP email with its Enterprise Server. Windows for Mobile utilises Microsoft's exchange server, while the iPhone utilises Apple's own MobileMe platform for push email.

Matt Hatton, principal analyst at Analysys Mason, believes that when deciding which OS is best for business comes down to survival of the fittest.

"The business market differs from the consumer market in two ways. There's the need for reliability and the availability of IT support in business applications, and in consumer markets, open models will dominate," he explained.

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"The business market demands a rather more managed approach. An end-to-end managed environment is more in keeping with the demands of business. That's why a company like RIM is so successful with the Blackberry product. It controls all elements of the service including device, application and server to ensure the optimal user experience."

The contenders

However, James McCarthy, head of business marketing at Microsoft, believes that the familiarity a platform such as Windows provides for business people is one of the most important factors when deciding which OS to choose.

"Windows brings the familiarity of Microsoft Office to the mobile device, including Outlook Mobile, Word Mobile, Excel Mobile and PowerPoint Mobile. Through these we deliver a great deal of similarity from PC screen across to mobile screen."

"Outlook Mobile can be securely enabled on Windows Mobile devices without the need for any additional software or servers, just with a relatively inexpensive data bundle' from the mobile operator," he told IT PRO.

"This makes delivering Outlook Mobile to all employees a very cost effective use of existing company assets more so than mobile email solutions that require additional servers and expensive tariffs."

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David Wood, part of the Leadership Team at the Symbian Foundation, thinks that platform support and development is one advantage that Symbian has over other platforms.

"Symbian is the only platform with roadmap input from a range of the world's leading mobile companies. It has a uniquely proven capability in both roadmap design and roadmap delivery.

"We have healthy and productive relationships with network operators around the world and support a wide range of hardware, device form factors, and user interface models - offering great choice to both consumers and business people," he said.

"The powerful ecosystem of partners means that we can quickly provide new solutions catered for specific consumer and business use."

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Examining applications

When examining which platform is most useful for business, there are two main considerations, said Hatton.

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"There are horizontal applications that are relevant to all business, such as email, web browsing. Other than voice, email is probably the single most used application, simply because it is such an integral part of how we do business today.

A well-implemented email application can save businesses time and money.

"As little as a 15 minute per day time saving is enough to pay for a mobile email solution for most businesses," Hatton explained.

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