HEAT_WAVE_072605For users and observers of the smart phone market, this was an extraordinarily hot summer.

It started with the much anticipated release of the Palm Pre. This awesome platform was everything that the iPhone wasn’t and more. Led by Jon Rubinstein, the Apple iPod executive who bolted from Apple to run the ‘bet the company’ product group at Palm in 2007, it was on both the Sprint (exclusive ‘til January 2010), and the VerizonWireless network. It was built on a new, Linux-like OS called WebOS. It was multi-threaded so apps could run in the background to be catapulted to the users’ attention as the result of some network, timing or user-defined trigger such as an instant message, the change of a key person’s presence status or the 15-minute warning of an impending meeting. Although it relied on an app store, originally with only a few apps since the SDK was immature, it promised no censorship by Palm.

And then Apple responded with the Apple 3G S, a newer, faster and improved update of their iconic product. Apple’s new OS 3.0 enabled several new and useful features while simultaneously slashing the price of the older and smaller unit to $99 with AT&T contract.

Then RIM introduced the BlackBerry Tour, the first really global phone from CDMA wireless companies VerizonWireless and Sprint. Lots of good debate about why there was no exclusive on this phone, but it came down to no need since Sprint was committed to promoting the Palm Pre.

And, not to be left out of the debate, T-Mobile and HTC introduced the 3G Dash, the only new Windows Mobile 6.1 device of this incredible summer.

Smart phones getting smarter with faster data network access promises to redefine personal computing, and changes the standards for competition. Being mobile is not enough. Business needs to have mobile UC. Our upcoming report, Beyond UC, will discuss this.

And, in a shocking move, we’ve learned about how Dell plans to enter the smart phone market in China through China Mobile which purports to be the largest operator (by subscribers) in the world with nearly 500 million subscribers. It’s not surprising that Dell would enter the smart phone market. And, I suppose it’s not that surprising that Dell would begin by working in China since after all, a single carrier channel can position the product to so many millions of subscribers (China Mobile alone is roughly 2 x the entire US market), the iPhone is not available and CDMA (used by China Mobile, VerizonWireless and Sprint) keeps Nokia out of the picture. What is surprising, is that Dell will be releasing the platform using Google’s ‘juvenile’ Android OS. I would have bet that Microsoft put a full court press on Dell to adopt the Windows Mobile, but despite their strong relationship on PCs and servers, Android won the first platform.

Sometimes a competitive loss wakes up the competitor to do better next time. No doubt Microsoft will have to pick up the slack on Windows Mobile, or else they will be left behind. Other long-standing partners such as Motorola and HTC are rolling out Android platforms leaving Microsoft Windows Mobile as the platform for old folks and old phones.

All this focus on smart phones is amazing and indicative of intense demand for really smart pocket computers that look like and act like phones from time to time. Research by Brockmann & Company, due out in early September highlights the views and experiences of some 350 business users and their mobile phone plans, consumption and use of key features and the impact of mobile communications on business performance.

Clearly the laptop and the cell phone are colliding to spawn a new era of really small, really smart networked devices that are really all we need to our jobs.

However the research shows that it is no longer enough to just issue mobile phones to employees. IT has to support them well. IT has to constantly qualify new devices (like the half dozen introduced this summer). IT has to develop applications that make my mobile employees more productive and more responsive than their competitor on the street. The upcoming report is called “Beyond Unified Communications: How Mobile UC Changes Business” and sets the stage for the link between mobile UC and higher business performance and how to get mobile UC to work for your business. I’ll keep you posted when it publishes. You can visit http://www.mobileuc.net/component/user/?task=register and pre-register to get on the notification list for the free report.

The initial output of our research initiative “The Product Manager’s Guide To Mobile UC, 2009” describes the Mobile panel’s views on some 39 mobile features, some 11 system-wide features and reviews plans for mobile phones within the next six months. The 50-page report contains 83 graphs and is available for download at http://www.mobileuc.net/reports/pms-guide-to-mobile-uc for a nominal fee.

From our research, it certainly looks like enterprise mobility promises to not only change the business by accelerating it even more taking advantage of minlets (see What’s a Minlet Got To Do With It?) and making the deskphone, the desktop PC and maybe the laptop PC obsolete for most.

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