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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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.
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.
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