Top 10 Smartphone Advances Of 2009 - InformationWeek

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12/16/2009
02:49 PM
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Top 10 Smartphone Advances Of 2009

As smartphones further cemented their place in the enterprise, Apple, Motorola, Google Android, and RIM Blackberry vied for the spotlight.




RIM's Blackberry Storm 2 adds Wi-Fi and boosts the on-board memory to 2 GB.
(click for image gallery)

2. BlackBerry Hits The Mainstream

A typical BlackBerry user five years ago was a busy mobile professional who always needed access to corporate e-mail. While Research In Motion still has a dominant share with this type of user, BlackBerry smartphones have definitely gone mainstream. During its second quarter of 2009, the company said more than 80% of its new subscribers were non-enterprise users.

RIM has noticed this shift as well, and it is rolling out consumer-friendly devices like the BlackBerry Storm 2 and the low-cost BlackBerry Curve 8520 to capitalize on this market. It has also launched an application store and a social network to appeal to mainstream users, and RIM's growth potential in the casual market helped it top Fortune's list of the world's fastest-growing companies.

Competing in the casual space does represent multiple challenges though, as even the most die-hard BlackBerry fans have to admit RIM's user interface and multimedia capabilities lag behind companies like Apple. But RIM is confident that it can continue to deliver enterprise-grade services while still catering to the mainstream.

"It's much easier to go from enterprise to consumer because once you get the foundation correct, it's easy to turn off features if you want," said Mike Kirkup, RIM's director of developer relations. "Things like security and the basic building blocks that are required for businesses are difficult to add in after the fact."

3. Apple Revamps The iPhone

When Apple introduced the iPhone 3GS in June, most analysts saw it as an evolutionary upgrade, rather than a revolutionary improvement to the hardware. With a boosted processor, better camera, more storage space, and a digital compass, the iPhone 3GS was arguably a larger improvement from the previous version than the iPhone 3G was. Many IT departments also appreciated the hardware encryption and true support for ActiveSync policies because it made it easier for the iPhone 3GS to become a good corporate citizen.

But Apple's smartphones have never really been technologically above their competitors, as the first iPhone didn't have 3G access or a GPS chip. Apple has been wildly popular in the smartphone space because it continues to add new capabilities with new versions of the software. The iPhone OS 3.0 fixed multiple nagging holes in the platform like copy and paste, and it added features like universal search, voice memos, and remote wiping in conjunction with the MobileMe service. The latest OS also added more than 1,000 application programming interfaces for developers, and this opens the door for more innovative programs.

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