Why Windows Mobile will rule the world

Why Windows Mobile will rule the world, at least from a mobile enterprise point of view.

(Rod asked me to write something a little provocative, and he’ll probably respond. We’re doing this in order to work out our own thinking around device hardware, operating systems, and so on.)

Windows Mobile
Windows Mobile

Why Windows Mobile is going to become ubiquitous

It’s not that I am a massive Microsoft advocate (in fact those who know me would say that I am the opposite) but here I am writing about why Windows Mobile is going to become ubiquitous. There are 4 key reasons:

  1. Enterprise users are consumers too (and want good devices)
  2. IT Departments don’t get fired for buying Microsoft
  3. There’s a large developer pool
  4. The fastest growing range of devices

My hypothesis is that even though Windows Mobile may not be the best/fastest/most stable mobile operating platform, it will be the most popular and as such the most successful.

1. Enterprise users are consumers too (and want good devices)

Per his comment on this post on Mobile Enterprise, Tomi Ahonen reminds us that the Users within the enterprise are also consumers, and they’re going to be driven by what is hot and well marketed out there. Have you seen the adverts Microsoft are running? Many of these corporate user-consumers don’t care whether Windows is, say, less secure – is understandable, familiar, and close to what they are used to. And these people are driving mobility into the enterprise.

2. IT Departments don’t get fired for buying Microsoft

Microsoft are making a big play on the reduced cost of the solution as you need not buy Client/Server software such as BlackBerry Enterprise Server or run ‘expensive’ third party solutions. I am not sure that the total cost of ownership has been fully evaluated—any IT department supporting Windows (of any flavour) users and systems incurs an overhead. But that is not really the point. More importantly, Win Mobile is built upon a foundation that the IT departments understand: Exchange and Windows. What they are saying is: “this is not something new, this is something you totally understand and are comfortable with already, the learning curve does not exist, and you know how to support Windows already.” To me this is potentially one of the strongest positive arguments for a Windows Mobile Solution. You don’t get fired for buying Microsoft.

3. There’s a large developer pool

Microsoft is everywhere—and more so in the enterprise than my beloved Java/LAMP! .NET as a platform has its problems (as do the others), but resourcing for it is not a problem: there’s a huge pool of developers out there. Product design/cost, deployment, training and support are the core issues that the enterprises on any mobile platform, so I expect this developer pool to skill up on elegant design and usability – because the value will be in the applications rather than the platforms they run on.

4. The fastest growing range of devices

No matter what platform you are looking at, one of the biggest questions you need to ask yourself is: which device suits our business needs? Until recently it has been relatively difficult to match a device to the requirement. Now the plethora of Windows Mobile devices allows the enterprise to make a choice and work with it. If you need rugged devices with integrated Barcode scanners/Bluetooth/Rfid readers, the list can go on – then manufacturers such as Symbol can probably fulfil your needs, if you are looking for enterprise-wide executive tools then HP Palm and others have probably got what you need, if you are looking for a smart phone then Motorola Samsung and increasing number of mobile phone manufacturers will have what you need.

One potential concept that really interests us is that enterprises could pick the devices the best suit your different user groups, so your logistics and manufacturing type users could be using a rugged Symbol device on the ground, your sales people could be using the mobile office functionality of a smart phone or handheld such as a Palm Treo and your Executives might be using the Exchange functionality on a nice neat handheld (it is worth noting that when the senior management have a mobile device with email on it and they are using it regularly—selling the Enterprise solution for a part of their business that needs mobilising is often just that little bit easier).

All of the above variations could be served from the single back end that the business already uses for their email, and importantly be running the different applications that the user / job function requires.

In summary: more enterprise stakeholders know Windows, and will therefore find it easier to go with Windows Mobile. If the team buying the solution understands it, then the purchasing decision is easier.

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