There was a time when the question of which mobile device was best for US businesses could be answered in a single word. Blackberry. This was five years ago – almost a lifetime ago in the world of cell phones. RIM’s Blackberry phone and its operating system had a dominant grip on the business market in 2008, with a market share of over 40 percent. This is now reported to have shrunk to less than five percent.
Round one of today’s business platform battle
Today, the hottest ringside seats in the business world are to watch Android and Apple battle for supremacy. Apple’s iPhone represented 19 percent of global smartphone shipments in 2012, compared with about 70 percent for all Android phones, according to market intelligence firm, IDC. It also said that it expects tablets powered by Android to eclipse Apple’s iPad this year in terms of shipments. So the contest is well underway and it’s shaping up to be a good fight.
Apple abandoned its usually calm exterior and tried to land a blow on its Android adversary recently when its marketing chief, Phil Schiller, was reported in the Wall Street Journal as saying, “Android devices suffer in part because different elements come from multiple companies, whereas Apple is responsible for all its mobile hardware and as well as its iOS operating system. When you take an Android device out of the box, you have to sign up to nine accounts with different vendors to get the experience iOS comes with.” Ouch! However, despite the stiff competition in the mobile platform space, Android has already demonstrated its staying power and its popularity looks set to continue.
Securing business confidence
The issue of how resilient a platform is to cyber crime is also important to business users. In this respect, Blackberry remains the leader of the pack – but for how long? Government departments in the UK have been given the go-ahead in recent months to use iPhones to send and receive sensitive emails. Previously, BlackBerry had been the only device accredited for the use of restricted information. It’s a similar story here in the US, where the Federal Air Marshall Service, the Coast Guard and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are switching, or have already done so, from BlackBerry to other mobile platforms – with more federal government departments likely to follow.
Bring your own device, secure it – and don’t lose it
The significant trend of employees using their own mobile devices to access company emails and data, known as bring your own device or BYOD, also adds to the complexity of managing security risks. Staff are now often in control of which smartphone they use at work rather than their employer’s IT department. However, a fact often overlooked is that staff will also have to cover the cost if their personal device is damaged, lost or stolen – but this is a risk which can be quickly, easily and cheaply tackled by purchasing smartphone insurance. For example, Protect Your Bubble offers comprehensive insurance for only [insert price], which even includes next-day replacement.
How do you choose between ‘the same but different’
Looking to the future, have we now reached a point where all leading operating systems offer a robust and largely enjoyable, but fairly similar, user experience? And will these points of differentiation become even smaller over time? Regardless of these issues, the reality is that businesses and their staff want to be associated with the cool brand of the day – and this is, and is likely to remain, as important a factor as price or technical specification is in influencing which mobile platform and device is chosen by business users.
About the Author
Stephen Ebbett is Global Head of Direct Distribution at Protect Your Bubble, a leading online insurance brand in the US and the UK