Enterprise mobility – which platform should you choose?

By Stuart Sumner
31 Jan 2014 View Comments
Big Data concept - mobile flying down a data tunnel

Your users have embraced consumerisation with gusto, and bring in a whole variety of devices into work expecting to connect to the corporate network. Your CEO loves it and wants an enterprise app store up yesterday, if not sooner.

Further reading

To avoid total chaos, you want to standardise on one, possibly two platforms. Which do you choose? Android? Apple? Windows Phone? BlackBerry? Each has their strengths and weaknesses. To help you decide, let's take a look at how each platform is faring right now, and how it's likely to evolve in the future.

The big two, or three, or four?

Overall, the mobile market globally continues to grow, largely thanks to the developing world and China in particular. According to research firm Gartner, growth will remain steady throughout this year and next, at around 3.7 per cent.

So the pie is growing, but how is it sliced? Android currently enjoys just over half of total smartphone sales across most of the world, growing by more than four percentage points since the end of 2012.

And while Android was making these gains, Apple stumbled with a shrinking share in most of the same territories compared to 2012, although it remains strong in the US and UK, and is growing in China.

Apple will claim that it is still performing where it counts, but investors don't appear to agree, since its stock lost eight per cent of its value when its financial results were released recently, which among other things revealed lower than expected smartphone sales, especially of the new iPhone 5c.

The promise of riches to come from China is what's keeping Apple bullish, with 15.4 per cent of the firm's revenues for the first fiscal quarter 2014 coming from the region. And now that China Mobile has started selling iPhones following protracted negotiations, Apple appears to have a solid foothold for expansion in the globe's biggest market. Apple CEO Tim Cook said: "Last week was the best week for activations we've ever had in China. At this moment, we're only selling in 16 cities and that number is projected to be 300 cities by the end of the year."

On the face of it, then, good times ahead for Cook and his gang. But the battleground is fierce, and the terrain is uneven. China has a history of restricting market access for foreign firms, with Facebook and Twitter experiencing the thin end of that wedge in recent years. Apple itself was forced into an embarrassing apology last year when its consumer warranties were found to be inadequate. And the consumers themselves are not as brand loyal as those in the west, meaning they won't pay a premium for supposed prestige.

And then there's Chinese smartphone manufacturer, Xiaomi, which has rocketed to the fore, and produces the top-selling smartphone in China - all the more impressive given that the brand was only launched in 2010, and the device sold only online.

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