The Mobile Phone industry appears to be in shake-up mode. Unlimited Data tariffs have fallen by the wayside, Apple have released the iPhone 4 that drops calls if you hold it wrongly, the Google Android phone is selling fast, the Sunday Times doesn’t include Windows Mobile in its list of top 5 Mobile Phone Operating systems, tablet devices are appearing on the market and Steve’s fed up with it all.
A few months ago, we got an HTC Desire, running on Google Android, to see how it behaved. This is the phone that most consumer magazines cite as being the best smart phone on the market. Steve, as usual, was given the task of testing the new phone, and that’s when the grumbling started.
First off, Steve couldn’t sync his Outlook Calendar through Google’s Exchange Connector. The inbox was fine, as were the contacts, but no calendar appointments. He was forced to buy a third-party app from Google’s Marketplace (Apps Store) to view his Calendar.
Another client of ours also experienced similar problems with Calendar Appointments only heading one way (from the PC to the phone, and never back again). A search on the internet revealed that plenty of others were experiencing similar frustrations when trying to connect to Microsoft Exchange.
And it wasn’t just the Calendar issues that caused Steve to shout. The Bluetooth Connection to his Handsfree Kit in the car was very temperamental. And the Google Phone had a habit of ‘getting stuck’ when trying to pick up emails. If Steve was lucky and noticed that his pocket was getting hot, he could pull the back cover off, remove the battery, and force a reboot. If he was unlucky, then 30 minutes later he had a flat battery.
So, when the new iPhone 4 was released, we jumped at the chance to retire the HTC Desire and give Steve the iPhone instead.
Then the stories started to surface about the ‘grip of death’ that basically shorted out the Wifi and 3G aerials causing dropped calls.
Next to come was the news that the iPhone 4 software (that, by now, all the iPhone 3’s were also upgraded to use) was ‘killing’ Small Business Servers and Microsoft Exchange Servers. The iPhones were holding open the connections too long and sending the Exchange Processes into meltdown.
Apple released fixes for both of these issues (a free carry case for the iPhone 4), and an updated software release to fix the Exchange Connection problem.
At the moment, though, it’s not yet fully fixed. Sending emails on the iPhone via Exchange often results in the email ‘disappearing’ completely. It’s only when you look in the Sent Items on your PC that you notice that some of the emails you sent don’t exist.
Having a SmartPhone that you can’t trust to deliver emails is rather pointless – so the iPhone 4 is on its way back for a full refund.
So, what’s the conclusion?
Apple and Google have both missed the needs of businesses, yet continue to woo journalists and gain ‘5 Star’ ratings for their phones. The features for the consumer cannot be argued with – a good camera, ‘Angry Birds’ and other great games, and an easy-to-use interface. But, if you can’t reliably integrate with the defacto business email system (Microsoft Exchange), then anyone needing a phone for business is left with two choices… pay through the nose for a Blackberry (with the extra BES subscription), or wait until Windows Mobile 7 is released.
Bearing in mind that Windows Mobile 7 will include full integration with Outlook/Exchange plus built-in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and SharePoint access, then that seems to take care of most of what a business user will need. Add Maps, GPS, Internet, Social Media, a good Camera, and decent Bluetooth connectivity – then I think we’ll have something that’ll keep Steve quiet (for once!).
Windows Mobile 7
Take a look at the animations on this website and you’ll see how much better the new Windows Phone is compared to its predecessors. There’s no release date yet for the Windows Mobile – but it’s due ‘this autumn’.
So, please, for all our sakes, hurry up Microsoft….. !