Mobile and wireless computing is the hottest segment of the computer industry these days. According to NOP World Technology Enterprise, spending for wireless and mobility will increase 36 percent in 2005. That compares with overall IT spending, which, if we’re lucky, will grow about 7 to 9 percent this year. Besides increased mobile spending, NOP’s survey also found already-strong penetration of mobile devices with more than 70 percent of enterprises using cell phones, more than half using notebook computers and about 40 percent using PDAs. Today BlackBerry has 2 million subscribers, which is up 100 percent from last year, and some analysts predict it will double again by year’s end.
TAL Global Asset Management believes mobile and wireless will eventually reach 100 million for corporate users. palmOne is the leader in shipments to-date, and BlackBerry had almost 10 times the growth of the next closest competitor (Dell). Gartner says that it expects 20 million smartphones to ship in 2006, compared to about 13 million PDAs. Remote access to e-mail is rapidly becoming essential to most businesses. Gartner predicts that 80 percent of mobile workers will use wireless e-mail access by 2008.
So, you can see why palmOne, HP, Dell, Microsoft, Samsung, Nokia, et al., along with all the major carriers, are working overtime to create the best possible mobile and wireless PDA/phone or smartphone to garner the attention of enterprise buyers. They know they can sell enterprise customers higher-end models (with higher margins).
There are three key reasons for this increased activity in the proliferation of mobile in the enterprise:
First, and perhaps foremost, is the fact that e-mail has become the lingua franca of communication. Although the telephone is still important and, in fact, a key component of smartphones, it is its data capabilities that get the most attention within the enterprise—the number one data function used on smartphones is e-mail. Our own surveys show that about 70 percent of white-collar workers in the United States use e-mail as their primary form of business communication.
The second reason is the great software applications and tools available now that connect the mobile and wireless users to their enterprise-level systems. Companies like Antenna Software, Senforce, Sendia and others take aim at the mobile field service segment and provide a variety of ways to connect mobile field workers directly to their enterprise and backend applications.
Services such as Saleforce.com, Siebel on Demand and others give salespeople the ability to use mobile and wireless devices to gain access to sales, customer and inventory information from various form factors. This segment is where some of the greatest creativity in application development is taking place today.
The third reason for increased interest in mobile is the great new devices (palmOne’s Treo 650, Motorola’s RAZR, Nokia’s 9300) and wireless data networks coming to market at this time. IT managers tell me they are quite impressed with the new EDGE wireless data service from Cingular Wireless, which gives users mobile access to data at speeds up to 300 Kbps. They are even more excited about the EV-DO services coming from Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS with speeds up to 1.5 Mbps. Although these networks are not yet available to the entire country, they will be in almost all major metropolitan markets by the end of 2005.
Bottom line is that mobile and wireless technology in the enterprise is not only alive and well but outpacing any other segment of the PC industry. And as these products become more mission-critical tools, they will only increase in value to the companies that use them.