Time for mobile makers to eliminate business-consumer divide

It’s been one of those weeks where it seems the only thing that matters in technology is the fact that someone has produced a slightly thinner smartphone.

There are cynics who say the launch of the iPhone 5 shows why Apple needs to resort to patents to hinder its competitors.

But it’s certainly true that the smartphone market has become one of minor, incremental improvements now, rather than the huge leaps that were first catalysed by the release of the original iPhone.

Wouldn’t it be good, therefore, if the big mobile makers devoted more of their product development towards the needs of business?

Research and development (R&D) cash for technology products is understandably biased towards consumer products. Gone are the days when IT was created for business first, then morphed into a consumer device. But now, with the growth of consumerisation and bring your own device (BYOD) schemes, there’s a gap between the capability of mobile technology and what business needs.

Every IT leader facing demands from employees to use their own devices to access corporate systems will vouch for the problems it continues to present, while no doubt quietly thinking, “If only everyone would be happy using a BlackBerry, like the old days”.

The forthcoming launch of Windows 8 could prove to be another catalyst, in that Microsoft is hoping that a common operating system from phone to tablet to desktop will be the answer to the IT department’s prayers.

But there’s still going to be the challenge of users saying, “Sorry, I don’t want a Windows Phone”.

There’s also the launch of BlackBerry 10, although we wait to see if that will be enough to stem manufacturer RIM’s decline.

Nonetheless, it opens up an opportunity for Apple – or someone in the Apple ecosystem – and Google/Android to make it easier for those users to turn to the IT team and show how easily and securely they can access key applications and data.

The ultimate aim for IT is to remove the distinction between business and consumer technology. Many cloud services already blur those lines. The only reason we’re fretting about BYOD is because it is trying to bridge two worlds that have historically been considered diametrically opposed.

But the people using technology on a daily basis no longer see such a distinction – well, other than when consumer products are easy and fun to use, and corporate systems are complex and difficult.

IT R&D – and mobile makers in particular – would benefit themselves and their customers by eliminating that business-consumer divide.

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