Windows Phone 7: Good for Small Business?
By Marc Saltzman
There’s no ignoring the Windows Phone 7 mobile
operating system: According to market researcher IDC, the Windows OS
system for smartphones will surpass the popular iPhone iOS by the year
2015. The recent report predicts Microsoft’s mobile OS will
account for 20.9 percent of the smartphone OS market, compared with 15.3
percent for Apple’s iPhone.
the reason for this projected growth is the just-announced strategic
alliance between Nokia and Microsoft, a partnership to compete with
rivals like Apple, Google and Research in Motion. Certainly, more
small-to-midsized businesses will consider deploying Windows Phone 7
devices to on-the-go employees. After all, there are many options for
carriers, manufacturers, prices and form factors.
But will IT professionals like you feel that this OS is worthy? Is it secure enough for your company?
Windows Phone 7: A Small-business Tool
analysts say you should weigh a number of factors when considering the
viability of Windows Phone 7 right now for your organization.
should always be top priority, and Windows Phone 7 does have the
minimum security requirements, such as the ability to securely connect
to Microsoft Exchange,” says Ken Dulaney, vice president of
mobile computing at the Gartner research and consulting group.
“Of course, it depends on the policies in place, but these
smartphones include features such as strong password support and the
ability to wipe the device if it’s lost or
The partnership with Nokia
will have a real impact, says Tim Doherty, a research analyst for IDC in
Framingham, Mass.: “Aside from the fact that Nokia makes very
nice hardware, they have the scale and brand strength outside the
United States to quickly and efficiently raise the footprint of Windows
Phone 7 devices.”
Your company may
want to take advantage of the relatively aggressive pricing on the
hardware as Microsoft attempts to grow its market share. “With
some Windows Phone 7 smartphones selling for $49, it’s a
bargain,” says Dulaney.
Phone 7: Familiar Apps, Limited Selection
Windows Phone 7 is a Windows phone, after all,
so your end users will find familiar apps, such as Outlook and Windows
Live services, Internet Explorer (Web browsing), Bing search and maps,
and even pocket editions of Microsoft Word (word processing), Excel
(spreadsheets), PowerPoint (presentations), SharePoint and
However, Windows Phone 7 falls short
when it comes to selection. You’ll find approximately 11,500
applications available at the Windows Marketplace, says Microsoft --
compared with roughly 400,000 at Apple’s App Store, 200,000 at
the Android Market and about 25,000 for BlackBerry App World.
Phone 7: A Step Backward?
The lack of Windows
Phone 7 apps might not be the biggest obstacle for the Redmond, Wash.,
tech giant. “There are those who were disappointed with
Windows Mobile, and they might not want to take another risk with
Windows Phone 7,” says Delaney. “Plus, people
already have iPhone, BlackBerry and Android, so Microsoft has a hurdle
in getting people to switch and winning back their
The current Windows Phone 7
platform also has a ways to go. “Its functionality is where
the iPhone 2 is. Windows Phone 7 devices can’t copy and paste,
and apps can’t be put into folders,” says Delaney.
“In other words, people are understandably reluctant to go
Clearly, Microsoft is
seeing the smartphone race as a marathon and not a sprint, and the
company will continue to evolve and improve Windows Phone 7 for both
consumers and businesses alike. “The Windows brand is strong
among businesses,” says Doherty. “But Microsoft just
hasn’t gotten mobility right yet. They have a chance to
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