On the 6 October, new smartphones that supported Microsoft's latest Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system began to be advertised.
In this article:
- Key Features
- Build Quality
- Personal Appeal
- Enterprise Application Support
- Availability and Price Plans
At the time of writing this article, Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphones soon to be available in the UK included the Sony Ericson Experia X2; LG GM750; HTC Snap and Touch 2; Toshiba TG01; and Samsung Omnia Pro B7610 and B7330, Omnia II, and Omnia Lite B7300.
We chose to look at the forthcoming Samsung Omnia Pro B7610, which is aimed squarely at the mobile business user, with what the vendor describes as separate work/life user interfaces.
Unusually, the Omnia PRO B7610 has both a touch screen and a full slide-out Qwerty keypad. The device runs the latest Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional operating system, and features push email for multiple email accounts, including corporate email.
In terms of business software, the phone has the Pocket Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF viewer) and fast data transmission through HSDPA and WiFi connectivity.
Other innovative features include a business card scanner, a 5MP camera, plus photo and video editor, and 1GB internal memory. A-GPS is available on the phone, which means the Omnia Pro B7610 can be used as a Sat-Nav device.
The sliding Qwerty keyboard was a talking point for analysts, though Roberta Cozza, Gartner principal research analyst, pointed out that this is not a new design. It was pioneered by HTC, the consumer-oriented manufacturer which is now focusing more on full touchscreen devices, and making some headway amongst business users.
"The Samsung B7610 definitely looks like a good business device, though it is difficult to judge how usable the Qwerty keypad is. Gartner sees a market for a sliding Qwerty and this kind of form factor, but the issue for Samsung is that they are very well known as a consumer brand, and have a long way to go to establish themselves in the enterprise market," she said.
Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca, said that the marriage of a strong consumer brand, Samsung, with a business brand, Microsoft, will make the Samsung B7610 appealing to many enterprise users.
He added that business users "will understand" Samsung's dual input device strategy, representing the 'work/life balance'. "It's not going to grate. There has been a very noticeable consumerisation of business IT, and many people like that."
Cozza, added, "Windows Mobile remains one of the best platforms that you can build business applications on. We think that Windows Mobile together with the BlackBerry OS are the two that are positioned best for enterprise users. However, one of the key limitations is the user interface for Windows mobiles."
Bamforth agreed, saying, "In comparison with the Windows platform, the Apples and Palms of the world have created a much more user-friendly mobile user experience, based on a 'widget' model." (Widgets are small programs designed for the web or mobile devices and generally carry out individual tasks.)
In terms of deep integration with enterprise applications, Bamforth said that historically this has been more straightforward with Windows platforms because of the investment Microsoft has made in both development tools and its developer community.
"Microsoft is already well ahead of its smart phone competitors with its development platform, developer programs and ecosystem support for developers," he said.
"Connecting phone users to do mobile email is one thing, but connecting them to back-end applications and document sharing is more complex, and this is where we will see a narrowing of options."
"Probably the platform to go the furthest - of the four we are looking at - is Windows Mobile. Windows on the desktop is already widely accepted, and Microsoft has done a very good job of .net in terms of application portability to the mobile platform," said Bamforth.
However, looking at Microsoft's online store, Windows Marketplace for Mobile, the number of high-quality certified enterprise applications available for the platform still appears to be low.
The Samsung Omnia Pro B7610 smart phone is priced at around £370 for a single unit. Handset availability and service providers and still to be confirmed, and we were unable to test the smartphone for this feature.
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