January 01, 2009

iPhone, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile… Oh My!

By Ken Stewart of ChangeForge (Twitter/FriendFeed)

No one cares about the platform, they care about the experience – right?

In days gone by, there was (and probably still is) a lot of talk about the platform itself. However, gone are the days where you should care about the platform. We have moved from a society stuck in our love-hate relationship with the platform to that of desire for seamless delivery of a solution – we are looking for results.

InformationWeek predicts 2009 as “The Year of the Mobile Apps” in their December 22 issue. With Apple stepping onto the scene with the App Store, Apple has moved more than 300 million mobile apps from the store right to your hand. The experience is easy and painless: we get what we want, when we want it, right in our hand – now!

The numbers don’t lie. Apple has successfully captured 23 percent of the market according to a ChangeWave report in December, with Palm and Motorola suffering losses of almost half of their respective market share: Palm suffered a drop from 18 to 9 percent, while Motorola shed 3 percent to crash land at 4 percent.

Windows Mobile slid precipitously, allowing Apple to overtake it in worldwide sales, and oddly enough, there were no numbers released for Smartphones running the new Google Android OS. However estimates released by HTC put initial sales at approximately 1 million units sold as of December 31, 2008.

RIM Still On Top

Still on top however is Research In Motion (RIM), maker of the recently released BlackBerry Storm. The recent launch of its new platform helped RIM edge up 3 percent to perch at a rocky 43 percent market share. This positive number was only shadowed by the fact that Apple continues to gain on it’s rival by leaps and bounds.

RIM took notice, and architected a $19 million deal to by Chalk Media. Chalk Media, perhaps best known for its Mobile Chalkboard application, is seen as a vehicle for helping RIM deliver rich media to perspective business and government clients. What’s the attraction, you ask?

RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) allows organizations, large and small, to effectively manage mobile devices across the organization. Windows Mobile and Apple’s iPhone only have rudimentary controls for the most simplistic of data needs… and no centralized controls from which application deployment can be administered. This is a big drawback for companies wishing to actually manage how their information is accessed.

Oracle and Information Builders have built “enterprise app interfaces” for the iPhone, in the hope this will allow subscribing enterprises to effectively deploy applications via this console, but many companies cite difficulties in working with Apple to deploy software via the App Store.

The Take Away

So the takeaway is that Apple and RIM appear to have the greatest lead in this game for US based sales. Apple demonstrated that a solid, dependable platform with an intuitive interface to purchase apps is a solid combination, but is still truly lacking in enterprise-rich features it needs to gain true acceptance. While RIM maintains a strong lead because of its stance on security and centralized management, figures indicate that only 33 percent of Storm users were “very satisfied” with their experience of the device, as opposed to 77 percent of purchasers of the original iPhone.

These numbers clearly indicate RIM’s BlackBerry has a long way to go before it can consider itself a sure-thing, but it is making plays to remain viable in both the business and consumer markets by latching onto the concept of mobile application development and delivery in hopes of staving off Apple’s momentum.

Ken Stewart’s blog, ChangeForge.com, focuses on the collision between the constantly changing worlds of business and technology. To learn more about Ken, visit his about page. You may also find Ken on FriendFeed, Twitter, and LinkedIn.