Top 10 Smartphone Advances Of 2009 - InformationWeek

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02:49 PM

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.

Samsung's I7500 Android Smartphone
(click for image gallery)

Apple has sold more than 21 million iPhone units, and has inked deals in new markets like China and South Korea. Thanks to 3.0 OS improvements, the device is also finding its way into corporate environments.

There are still a few questions about the iPhone's exclusivity in the United States though, as the deal with AT&T is reportedly set to end in 2010. Additionally, the competition has gotten a lot better since the debut of the original iPhone, and there are credible competitors on every major U.S. carrier.

Even with its potential hurdles, the iPhone appears to have strong momentum that shows little signs of slowing down.

4. Android Army Gathers Soldiers

For most of 2009, the idea of Android was more appealing than the devices. The T-Mobile G1 was a geek's dream but it lacked enterprise support and the form factor was hit or miss. In the second half of the year however, there has been a flood of attractive Android smartphones from the likes of HTC, Samsung, LG Electronics, Motorola, and smaller manufacturers. An Android phone can now be purchased on Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and Verizon. So far, AT&T has not committed to Android, but rumors suggest it will land a device sometime next year.

Google said it expected up to 20 Android-powered devices to be released by the end of 2009, and companies including Sony Ericsson and Asus-Garmin are expected to release Android smartphones in 2010. Developers also are taking Android seriously, as there are now more than 13,000 programs in the Android Market.

But some studies suggest content creators aren't very happy with Android because of low download volumes and trends that indicate Android users aren't likely to pay for apps.

The wide range of Android devices also potentially presents fragmentation problems, as some developers are already grumbling about having to optimize apps for a variety of screen sizes and form factors. Additionally, companies like HTC and Samsung are layering their own user interfaces of top of Android, and this could eventually lead to some compatibility issues.

For Google, the growing success of Android exposes more users to its ecosystem and potentially to its online advertising juggernaut. Enterprise mobility specialists like Good Technology and Zenprise also said there is growing interest from corporations wanting to use Android-powered smartphones.

While the 2.0 version boosted enterprise features, Android still lacks crucial enterprise necessities like hardware encryption and full ActiveSync policy support. Google said it plans to bake in more enterprise-friendly features in future versions of the mobile OS.

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