Even in a down economy, a raft of new mobile devices is tempting consumers and inevitably, the corporate workforce. Rumors abound that a new iPhone will be released next month along with Palm's Pre and more smartphones based on Google's Android platform are in the works.
The new features and form factors offer consumer more choice, but the new phones are going to be a management headache for IT departments, according to industry experts.
"It's going to get worse because, where it used to be Windows Mobile and Research in Motion's BlackBerry and Symbian in Europe, now everyone is competing in the smartphone marketplace," said analyst Jack Gold, who heads J.Gold Associates. "You add the iPhone, Android and Palm's Pre, that gets pretty difficult. Most companies can't handle that many."
Gold said some company's might choose to restrict what employees can do with some of the newer devices. "Like if you're just going to do e-mail, that's fine," he told InternetNews.com. "But then that restricts the benefits of mobility if you can't run other apps."
Apple's iPhone supports Microsoft's Exchange Server, so in terms of corporate e-mail it is compatible. But enterprise mobile management firm Odyssey Software said Apple doesn't offer nearly the level of manageability big companies are used to for Windows Mobile devices and RIM's BlackBerry line.
"There are some very exciting platforms, like the iPhone, that have raised the user experience and our customers are coming to us and asking us for the same management features we offer for Windows Mobile," Mark Gentile, president and CEO of Odyssey Software, told InternetNews.com.
Odyssey has been developing for Windows Mobile devices since 1998. Gentile says BlackBerry and iPhone support are the two biggest requests his company's hearing from enterprise customers. He said Odyssey recently evaluated BlackBerry and concluded it could extend the same depth of services it offers for Windows Mobile and such a move is being considered.
Hitting the iPhone's limits
However, a similar analysis left Odyssey to conclude it can't, at this time, extend to the iPhone. Read more about the problems iPhone and other new mobile platforms face at InternetNews.com.