Mobile devices have been around for more than a decade now. In the beginning, they primarily provided the functionality of telephony, as well as contact, email and calendar Spectrum Email management. Soon after, these devices started offering access to the worldwide web. Even at that time, it was felt that they would become pervasive within the enterprise and would be used by the workforce in multiple ways.
However, this did not happen in a significant way for many years. Blackberry was the first mobile device to penetrate the enterprise to any real extent, but employees used it primarily for email and calendaring capabilities. With the advent of Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platforms, the landscape is changing. These devices have rapidly started becoming pervasive in enterprise communications. This article explains the reasons for the quick entry of mobile devices into the business environment and the factors that enterprises are considering while incorporating a broad spectrum of mobility capabilities into the workplace.
When mobile devices were initially introduced, carriers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and others made a significant investment in infrastructure for providing the cellular phone service. The devices were provided by non-computer electronics companies like Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and others. They had a mix of proprietary operating systems including Symbian, Windows Mobile, and Palm OS, which, in turn, came with development tools that were hard to use. These early mobile devices also used other mechanisms like BREW, J2ME for enabling application developers to write applications for these devices.
Considering that the carriers owned the subscribers and they had made huge initial investments, they called the shots in terms of what applications, ring tones, and phone options were provided to the users of these devices. The carriers controlled email by putting their own email servers in between enterprise email servers and the user. The carriers controlled which web sites users could access by showing a limited set of menus when users tried to access the web. The carriers also had control over which applications users could download onto their devices. In fact, the carriers also dictated what the device manufacturer was allowed to pre-load onto any device that was offered by that carrier to its customers.
In addition, software developers had to establish a business relationship with the carriers before they could make their applications available on the devices offered by that carrier. As a result, independent software development vendors (ISVs) did not develop many applications for these devices since the carriers are large companies and it is time consuming and cumbersome for small ISVs to establish relationships with them. There were a limited number of ISVs that came into existence (such as Antenna software, Mobilieum, Rocket Mobile and others); and these companies struggled to grow for the above reasons.
Blackberry was able to break this model. It gradually established that it handles emails extremely well and that it has much better reliability than what most carriers offered through their own email servers. Therefore, the carriers had to cede control of email specifically for Blackberry devices. The email to Blackberry devices is handled either by RIM, the manufacturer of the device, or by individual enterprises who install a Blackberry server within the enterprise.