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Smartphones that matter to VARs

Solution providers say there are currently three smartphone operating systems that really matter to the channel.

One should never underestimate the power of Microsoft to penetrate a market, but IT solution providers say there are currently three smartphone operating systems that really matter: Research in Motion's BlackBerry, Apple's iPhone (iOS) and the various devices converging around Google's Android. Windows Mobile adoption has lagged, but solution providers say they are watching the Windows Phone 7 launch arc closely.

"Frankly, it's the Wild West right now in terms of which devices to support," said David Bennett, president of solution provider Connections for Business in Hollywood, Fla.

A 2010 survey by Forrester Research Inc. found that nearly half of all companies are supporting two or more mobile application platforms. About the same number support employee-owned devices. Of these, the BlackBerry still is the dominant platform, supported by almost 70% of the companies surveyed by Forrester. That's because it is the most enterprise-ready platform, according to Bennett.
Still, the Forrester research shows that approximately 30% of businesses support the iPhone and 13% are now managing Android devices.

"One key strength of the Android platform is the fact that these devices are available on multiple wireless networks, say solution providers. The iPhone's historic ties to AT&T have somewhat held up faster adoption, they added.

A challenge with both the Android and iPhone operating systems is that they were built with consumer applications in mind, Bennett said. Conversely, the BlackBerry was built with attention to enterprise considerations, including security, user provisioning and device management needs.

About the expert
Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist in the New York area with more than 20 years experience. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. Clancy was previously editor at Computer Reseller News, a B2B trade publication covering news and trends about the high-tech channel.

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