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June 22, 2009

Gadgets -Android Smartphones as a Business Device?


Android (News - Alert) is cool, but not for the enterprise (yet).
 
Google’s Android would seem to have a lot to offer, but can it make inroads with business users? There’s a lot of functionality and programming to be done.
 
Not that the ‘droid hasn’t been successful. T-Mobile (News - Alert) has sold more than a million G1 Android-based phones and just announced the second generation myTouch 3G successor. Running Android 1.5, the new myTouch 3G brags a 3.2-inch color touch screen, weight of 4.1 ounces, and dimensions of 4.45 inches by 2.19 inches by 0.58 of an inch; no keyboard, however. Talk time on a fully battery charge is estimated around six hours and 600 hours or so of standby time.
 
Listing at $199 for current T-mobile users and available through retail channels in early August, myTouch features include 3G in the form of HSPA, WiFi, GPS, a 3.2 megapixel camera, a 4GB microSD memory card and support for a bunch of IM clients. It is capable of multitasking – the area where the single-app-at-a-time Apple (News - Alert) iPhone gets flogged – and has a one-touch access to Google services, including Google Search by Voice and Google Maps. Users can set up one-click upload for videos to YouTube and pictures to Picasa.
 
E-mail support has gotten a big boost, with support for Microsoft (News - Alert) Exchange, as well as (what else?) Gmail and most other POP3 and IMAP e-mail services.
 
But a quick look at the official Android market reveals that when it comes to business apps, the cupboard is nearly bare. DataViz provides a version of the classic Documents to Go to view, edit, and create Microsoft Word and Excel files and there’s the RepliGo PDF Reader, but if you are looking for something more substantial, you probably have to hunt really hard or write your own.
 
Security apps and features, such as a non-beta VPN client or a remote feature to wipe a lost or stolen phone are not available; a big deal killer for anyone looking to support a large number of phones. Potential customers may also not be assured of reports that T-Mobile’s network was allegedly hacked, a claim T-Mobile says is false.
 
Finally, a phone is only as good as a network. AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon (News - Alert) all claim to have wider coverage and larger networks than T-Mobile, so an Android/T-Mobile combination might not be the best of any world.
 
If, despite all of this, you see a need for an Android phone in a business environment, Verizon Wireless will offer an Android phone sometime this year and Sprint has also indicated it will “definitely” have an Android offering in 2009.
 

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Doug Mohney is a contributing editor for TMCnet and a 20-year veteran of the ICT space. To read more of his articles, please visit columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan
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