Cost and confusion — is there a gap in the mobile devices market?

Not everybody does the same job, so why should they all have the same device?

While this used to be the case, this approach has long gone. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) was presented as the initial answer but seems to have petered out in the UK, with the exception in some of the largest corporates. Most medium to large businesses now look at user profiles and work styles before choosing the most suitable device for the various roles within their organisation. To any sensible person this makes perfect sense.

Which begs the question – why is it not working in the real world?

Firstly, instead of standardising on a single device, this approach often results in standardisation on a single manufacturer. The manufacturer is often chosen because it has a broad portfolio of devices, coupled with an operating system the IT department is happy to support. Entry level devices for the workers and top-of-the-range devices for the executives is one way of looking at it! So far so good – but with more and more operating systems becoming disconnected from the manufacturer, is the single manufacturer approach also flawed? 

Given both this challenge and current market trends, who should you buy from today?

In the past, BlackBerry has been the all-time enterprise favourite. But last year BlackBerry decided to concentrate on the development of its software and services business, and took the decision to stop manufacturing its own phones.

What about Microsoft then? The Lumia range experienced massive success in the enterprise for the very reasons I explained above. But the future is uncertain here as well: Microsoft keeps saying it will continue to remain in the phone market and there are lots of rumours about the ultimate Surface mobile device, yet, most of the Lumia range is now end-of-life and there appears to be no replacement in sight. Are the lights going out on the Lumia range?

That leaves Apple or Android. Apple iOS and iPhones are inextricably linked – all good there then. But there are no cheap-and-cheerful iPhones, so no credible option for the worker-bees in the business. So then there’s Android, which now boasts the security features to keep IT happy and a broad enough range to ensure both users and procurement are satisfied.

So is there a gap in the market that can be exploited? I think there is, particularly for smaller mobile manufacturers that can produce devices with top-end features at a lower price point. Could Nokia be set for a comeback? Not only does it understand the business market, but one of the worst kept secrets in the mobile industry over the last few months has been that Nokia will be re-entering the market in 2017 with the next generation of Nokia phones running Android.                                                                                             

What makes a mobile device suitable for business anyway? I’m not sure that anyone knows anymore. Security features? Fingerprint recognition? Long battery life? All of these are just as in demand by consumers!

It’s certainly worth looking at some of the predicted innovations in mobile for 2017 to identify any trends that might be appropriate for business. Curved screens, foldable screens, no headphone sockets – not sure they fit the bill. Wireless charging and dual lens cameras are probably more useful.

But in the enterprise today, it’s probably more about the apps than the device itself anyway, and making sure you provide seamless access to the systems, business apps and collaboration tools that your people need to do their jobs.

One thing is for certain – nothing ever stands still in mobile!