Who Makes What: Mobile Devices
Welcome to Unstrung's Who Makes What report on Mobile Devices. Like previous Who Makes What reports, on both Unstrung and our sister publication, Light Reading, this report is designed to become a key reference document for IT and telecommunications managers, giving them a detailed map of a critical industry segment and a snapshot of emerging (and waning) trends, as well as a comprehensive list of mobile device vendors.
As more and more applications move beyond the office walls to mobile devices – including everything from email to salesforce automation tools and billable-hours tracking systems – the choice of which mobile devices to deploy has become one of the most critical decisions for today's IT managers. That choice is being complicated by the release of feature-packed devices from many vendors, including mobile phone providers like Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), scanning-device makers like Symbol Technologies Inc. (NYSE: SBL), and PDA manufacturers like BlackBerry and Palm Inc. This proliferation makes it essential for IT managers to have a single, simple source for keeping track of the evolution of the mobile device market, and the major and emerging players in each market segment
A few years ago it would have been possible to categorize these devices under only a couple of headings: mobile phones and PDAs, essentially. More recently, the mobile device sector has grown from modest beginnings to an expanding industry that offers a wide range of wireless and portable devices, which offer everything from basic text messaging capabilites to computing power almost on a par with notebook PCs. The types and functions of mobile devices have multiplied to the point where we have grouped the companies that manufacture them under six categories:
- Page 4: Smartphones & Cellular Handsets
- Page 5: Enterprise Handhelds
- Page 6: Fixed/Mobile Convergence Handsets & Devices
- Page 7: WiFi Handsets
- Page 8: Tablet PCs
- Page 9: Mobile Operating Systems
The logic behind this breakdown can be found on Page 2: Taxonomy & Definitions of the mobile device market. A table displaying an overview of all categories of mobile device vendors may be found on Page 3.
With the recent release of Windows Mobile 5.0, which includes a "push" email system integrated with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Exchange server, the mobile device market has entered a new phase of intense competition, with vendors from different industry segments working toward a common goal: a single mobile device for unified messaging, comprising "one-number" voice-call forwarding, mobile email, and enterprise data applications.
While it remains true that "No one ever got fired for choosing BlackBerry," it's clear that different companies, and different types of industries, have widely varying needs. Indeed, some enterprise IT departments have abandoned the single-device rollout altogether, preferring to let users make their own choices, using security and mobile applications that can, at least in theory, be centrally controlled.
In keeping with Unstrung's focus on enterprise users of wireless technology, this report is intended primarily to compile and describe makers of devices being used by, or finding their way into, the enterprise. Inevitably, the companies making devices for the enterprise are also consumer-focused. (RIM, for example, which has built a powerful market through carrier-based enterprise deployments, has recently come out with devices for the consumer market, while Motorola is essentially attempting to cross over in the other direction.)
As with other initial Who Makes What reports in specific coverage areas, this report is intended in part as a marker and a starting point for discussion and amplification. We’ve done our best to identify all vendors, but we're bound to have overlooked some. So please feel free to point out omissions – either by posting a note on the message board for this article (our preferred method) or by sending us an email. Please include "Who Makes What" and your company name in the subject field to help us find messages. We will update the report as necessary, adding product categories and names, as we receive comments from readers.
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