Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout - InformationWeek

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Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout

As enterprise IT loosens its death grip on the RIM BlackBerry, we test the top mobile rivals. Dig into a real-life comparison of user experience, apps, enterprise readiness, and more.

The iPhone and Android phones are pecking away at BlackBerry market share like vultures on roadkill, especially within the walls of the enterprise.

New BlackBerry phones and an improved BlackBerry OS 7, along with a promising, consolidated platform in BBX, and even an Apple-esque leak about a new phone (code-named London) are not enough to satiate end users lured by new mobile apps, and swayed by a massive cultural shift. Even Windows Phone 7 is gaining some momentum, thanks to a compelling user experience and a healthy and growing list of apps.

Corporate IT is finally changing its stance on a BlackBerry-centric mobile world. Or as InformationWeek's Eric Zeman recently proclaimed: "iPhone Ousts BlackBerry From Boardroom, iPass Says."

It's time, therefore, to take a closer look at the contenders to replace the BlackBerry. For several weeks, I've been testing the iPhone 4S (AT&T), Google's Android (Gingerbread version) running on a Samsung Galaxy SII (a T-Mobile version and one from AT&T,) and Windows Phone 7.5 running on an HTC Radar 4G (T-Mobile) and the Nokia Lumia 800 (not available in the U.S. yet).

iPhone 4S
iPhone 4S

I tried to truly use each phone on a daily basis, rather than spend my time pouring over specs and trying every feature. In other words, this comparison focuses on the usability and practicality of each platform. In fact, there are many useful features that I found and couldn't find room for in this comparison. I hope readers will share some in our comments section as well.

I am, in fact, a BlackBerry user through and through. I've been using one for the past several years, occasionally testing some of the other platforms. I've recently switched my full-time smartphone allegiance to the iPhone 4S, thanks to a loosening of corporate IT policy at InformationWeek's parent company, TechWeb.

I tried my best to mimic phone experiences across all platforms. That's a bit harder than it would seem, given that many of the underlying services--notifications, location-based services, social network integration, and so on--differ. I set them all up to use WiFi, GPS, mobile networks, and a common set of applications.

Smartphone choice comes down to a handful of items: design, overall user experience, applications available, enterprise support and security, and a grab-bag of other features--including camera, cloud services, voice-activated services, and performance issues such as browser speed.

There's one more thing: Some buyers care greatly about notions of openness--the ability to run whatever apps they want, to use a phone on any network, to customize the phone without limitation. Other buyers just want the most simple, flawless experience, and don't wish to deviate from the pre-set choices. Neither is wrong, it's just a personal decision; and truth be told, some people don't even know that it's a choice they can make.

In this regard, Apple and Google sit on opposite ends of the spectrum, one controlling everything from the phone to the OS to the apps (Apple), with the other creating a somewhat-open OS that runs on many phones with a fairly accessible application ecosystem (Google). Microsoft sits somewhere in between, choosing not to manufacture phones (for now), but creating fairly tight rules about the hardware its OS runs on.

These are difficult decisions, especially since most people need to live with the choice for two years (the length of most standard carrier contracts); within those two years, everything changes again in dramatic fashion.

You can't go wrong with any of these platforms, from an end user point of view. I chose the iPhone for now because it marries my personal and professional worlds in ways that no other platform can quite match. But Android is damn close, and with Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), it may indeed overtake iOS. In fact, if the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is an even better version of the Samsung Galaxy SII, I may wish I had waited to make my final choice. And in another year, as Nokia and other manufacturers keep making better hardware for Windows Phone 7, and as Microsoft continues to improve its OS with the Apollo release, I may regret my choice yet again.

But such is the way with the mobile wars.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
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WP7
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WP7,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/28/2011 | 1:46:43 PM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
WP7 linked inboxes are NOT an all or nothing affair. In fact you can have MULTIPLE Linked Inboxes in WP7 Mango.

Your quibble with the WP7 Mango email system is as a result of you not knowing how to use it properly. You can have as many linked inboxes as you like on WP7, making it the most flexible email system of all the platforms.

So, for example, you can create one linked inbox for your Gmail and Yahoo, give it a name, and it becomes a linked inbox tile that can be pinned. This leaves your Outlook account which can be a second inbox with it's own tile. Play around with it and you'll see just how good it is!

What I often find disappointing is that authors of "shoot-out" type articles often don't know enough about all the systems to make a fair review, and this is just one example of not knowing how a feature works, therefore misinforming readers about the benefits of a particular system.
danzigism
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danzigism,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/28/2011 | 3:28:52 PM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
The one thing this article fails to mention is that when you talk about Enterprise, you need to talk about the people who manage all the devices in your Enterprise. Meaning, the IT Staff. Blackberry will still be used by governments and large businesses because of the STRICT policies that can be configured using Blackberry Enterprise Server. There are only limited things you can do with a device that merely connects to your Exchange or IMAP server to sync calendar appointments and emails. There are some apps that allow for the remote wiping of devices, but still the feature list of policy management for iPhone, Android, and WM7 are incredibly limited compared to what Blackberry has to offer.
humdinger
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humdinger,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/28/2011 | 3:35:14 PM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
This isn't really an enterprise overview of the system, it is more of an overview of how an enterprise user used each of the mobile systems personally. Like the commenter before me mentioned, the hooks provided by each mobile system for IT management are minimal and nothing compared to what BB provides. That said, it doesn't appear that this is a huge priority for users going into the future.

You also mentioned that WP7 does not have Google Docs but failed to mention that Office Mobile is available for free on the platform, which is certainly a better and more enterprisey solution than the thin web-apps that Google provides. With Office on WP7, I have access to well-featured editions of Excel and Word on the phone and when I go onto SkyDrive from a Desktop, I can launch the full desktop edition and continue working on the documents/spreadsheets and have it sync back to the phone.

All that said, this was probably the most neutral overview of all systems that I've read.
kroyalty410
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kroyalty410,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/28/2011 | 9:54:45 PM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
Great article and as close to non-bias as i've seen to date.
i'll not repeat what someone else said about the WP7 linked inboxes.
i will mention that there are other voice options built-into WP7 than you may not have discovered.

here are some examples. 1st, connect a bluetooth headset/device
hit the button on your headset/device - the phone will ask you for voice commands.
try "call john smith moble"
now try again and say "text john smith" - it will let you dictate a SMS/TXT message and read it back for your approval before sending. now wait for a reply - it will let you hands-free listen to the message and give you the option to reply. you never touch the phone. in fact, it's faster and uses less battery if you do this. the phone stays dark :)

if you bring up the "Bing" app (hit the magnifying glass button on the phone) you can then hit the microphone icon and it will function just like Shazam (which is also available) but links to your Zune feature of the phone.

try this cool feature - bring up "Bing" again. hit the "eyeball" icon. point the camera to any text (a sign, a document, etc) and it will OCR it and let you translate it from english to any other language. this is great for when you travel! i've not tried it outside the USA yet on non-english to english translation, but i'm eager to test it.

3rd cool feature also in "Bing" is the little "houses" icon. that is "local scout" and shows you either via GPS if you are outside, or cell tower triangulation if you are indoors, all the local "Stuff" you can see/do near your location.
all the "bing" stuff is in all windows phone 7.5 (mango) from all carriers. i've removed some apps as this works so well for me i don't need the other apps.

of note - Delta Airlines is the only major airline that has an app for ALL phone platforms. i've done a side-by-side comparison of the Delta app for iOS and WP7 and the WP7 app has features not in the iOS version. you should try that yourself. You have to have a flight booked to see some of the stuff btw - you may need to find someone that will let you log into their skymiles account that has some recent or upcoming flights to see what i mean.
Kevin
kroyalty410
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kroyalty410,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/28/2011 | 9:57:48 PM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
dang i forgot to mention - the "eyeball" in bing can also natively read QR Codes as well as "Microsoft Tags".
find someone that has a QR code of their business card and scan it. you'll get the immediate option if you tap on the info to save it to "outlook" or "windows live". if you save to outlook, you've just put them in your address book in exchange. I recently went to a conference where everyone had nametags that had their business card as a QR Code under their name. i was able to collect "Cards" via my phone and didn't have to enter even one business card at all manually.
Steve Hillshire
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Steve Hillshire,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 12:52:31 AM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
Facetime is *not* a compelling reason to buy an iPhone. Who wants video chatting that is limited to one platform. Unless all your friends own Macs and iPhones (both minority platforms mind you), only a misinformed consumer would call Facetime compelling. Tango for instance is cross platform even with Windows Phone 7 and works quite well.
YMOM100
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YMOM100,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 4:00:16 AM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
Android will win, of course. Questions?
Walt French
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50%
Walt French,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 4:07:40 AM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
GǣDespite all of these procedures (or lack thereof,) all three companies have had malware distributed through the app stores.Gǥ

Yes, and fatal accidents happen to both Volvo drivers and Apollo astronauts. That doesn't mean that the challenges of staying safe are remotely of the same order of magnitude.

It was just two years ago that iPhones were deemed GǣunsuitableGǥ for Enterprise use due to lack of remote wipe, etc. Now that the platform has it (and a certain OTHER one doesn't), we see long-term observers like Tim Bajarian say that IT people tell him Androids are not acceptable.

This is really striking that Google's wide-open, inherently insecure system (with all GǣsecurityGǥ being closing the barn doors after the cows are out), is equated to Apple's system that has multiple security mechanisms that sometimes still don't catch malware.

Perhaps the reviewer is not involved in security in an Enterprise that is terribly conscious of it, as the firm where I work is? How does this casual dismissal of disproportionate insecurity mechanisms seems incredibly casual.
FritzNelson
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50%
FritzNelson,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 4:25:26 AM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
Thank you for this. Microsoft didn't exactly make this easy for me, and what I did find online (in terms of making a universal inbox) took some doing, nor was your explanation included. So I appreciate that this can happen as you say (I sent my phones back, so I can't try it) and hopefully others will find it useful as well. This is precisely why I invited everyone to comment. I knew I wouldn't find everything.
FritzNelson
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50%
FritzNelson,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 4:27:50 AM
re: Android Vs. iOS Vs. Windows Phone 7: Enterprise Shootout
I absolutely agree. I've pointed this out numerous times in other articles I've written. I am curious, however, whether people really use all of those features & policies -- do they use 20%? 50%? How many do you need? I'm sure for govt & large business, this is very much required, however. The problem is what to do about all of your end users who bring in other devices and demand they be supported. A "BlackBerry Only" approach is probably not going to last too long.
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