Start Your Smartphones

Often, when covering a big technology tradeshow, I find myself grasping for a theme, trying to sum up the cacophony of vendor pitches into a coherent and persuasive overarching theme. In that sense, covering technology is a bit like covering the Paris fashion shows: "This year, when it comes to flip-phones, pink is the new black!"

Well, last week at CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment, I didn't have that problem. The news was definitely centered on new smartphones being released from almost all the major manufacturers. That's what people wanted to see, and that's what people were talking about on the show floor.

For IT pros, these new phones – many of which are more consumer-focused than the BlackBerries that have dominated the smartphone market since its infancy in the late 1990s – present certain dilemmas. Do you really want a mobile worker carrying a device that has a camera, an MP3 player, and video-download capability, and bringing it into the corporate offices? Even the low prices of these new phones – $199 for BlackBerry 's sleek new BlackBerry Pearl, $149 for the E62 from Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) (which will probably dip below 100 bucks when you factor in carrier rebates) – also offer both enticements and possible pitfalls. How do you limit deployments when any employee at any salary level can go out and buy him or herself a new email-ready phone for a C-note?

Those quandaries, however, should not obscure the range of possibilities that the new phones open up.

Many IT managers, particularly in small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs, in the jargon), have for a few years understood the benefits that mobile devices with email and enterprise applications could bring to day-to-day operations. But they've been prevented from adopting them (or rolling them out beyond the C-level executive suite) by a set of hurdles that include, but are not limited to, price. When you can pick up a Nokia or HTC smartphone for $100-plus, those hurdles quickly start to vanish. If you're a sole entrepreneur, an independent contractor, or a small-business owner, the benefits of the new-fangled smartphones outweigh even more clearly the downsides.

It's a new day for mobile devices, thanks to burgeoning consumer demand, relentless technological advancement, and the power of competition. Ladies and gentlemen, start your smartphones.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

Be the first to post a comment regarding this story.
Sign In