Picking a Mobile Platform

How You Choose Your Mobile Platform Comes Into Focus

How do you choose the mobile platform for your enterprise? It's one of those questions that tends to lead to a lot of starts and stops in the conversation. For some organizations, a single platform is key, leading them in a Windows/Windows Mobile direction for software. Others will look at best products for particular functions, choosing Windows laptops and Blackberry smart phones, perhaps. And a growing number of enterprises are side-stepping the decision altogether, allowing employees to bring their own laptops and/or smart phones as long as the devices will interface with key applications or support key file formats.

I've been thinking more about platforms and how we make the decision since the furor erupted over Apple's iPad. We're already seeing increased coverage of tablet computers with news of a theoretical Google Chrome tablet following on the heels of iPad. There are plenty of folks, too, who say that HP and other vendors have had perfectly wonderful tablet computer available for years. Which one will you choose for your mobile enterprise needs?

Now, I'm perfectly willing to accept that it's a little early to commit to a single tablet platform for your enterprise. Shoot, most of us are still trying to figure out whether we actually need a tablet computer. That decision is based, today, on a ton of conjecture, and those that follow in its wake are layered on still more guesses until we are actually able to put tablet computers in the hands of engineers and programmers. That doesn't mean we can't think about what we might do with them, just that we need to understand the difference between plans and pipedreams.

On which of these do you base decisions for mobile enterprise platforms? It's not really the easy decision that it might sound. It's easy to say, "Oh, we base decisions on nothing but hard facts and verifiable capabilities," but doing that in a fast-moving industry means that the deployed solution will almost always be a couple of steps behind what might be possible. You can, of course, go too far in the other direction and build concrete plans on nothing but vaporware, but that's not a recipe for career longevity.

So how do you choose the mobile platform for your enterprise? Allow me to humbly suggest that figuring out what you need to do, then what you want to do, followed by what it would be nice to do, is a good beginning roadmap. Once you have the three lists, you can start applying them to once and future platforms and be on your way.

Me? I'm planning to get an iPad when they come out, and integrate it into my Mac OS X and iPhone infrastructure scheme. Then again, I rather like pipedreams, and that's where I know I am with this right now. Where are you and your organization?

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