With the launch of IOS4 -- the rebranded iPhone OS 4 -- and the recent unveiling of Android 2.2, the leading edge smartphones have new OS platforms to build on. There are a lot of cool "bells and whistles" type features in both, but when it comes to deploying the smartphone as a business tool, which OS is better for business?
Perhaps neither of these smartphone platforms is "best" for the enterprise environment. RIM is the leading smartphone platform by a wide margin, and even third-place Windows Mobile -- now Windows Phone 7 when the next generation hits the streets -- is a more established business tool with tighter enterprise integration.
However, iPhone and Android are the best smartphones in general available right now, so business professionals and IT administrators need to be able to weigh which is better for their business needs.
For Business Professionals
• E-mail. IOS4 introduces the unified e-mail inbox to the iPhone. Rather than having a separate inbox for each e-mail account, all e-mail will go to one inbox and conversations will be threaded for more efficient messaging. Android 2.2 does not have a unified e-mail inbox, or threaded conversations.
However, enterprise customers that use Microsoft Exchange and ActiveSync to push Exchange e-mail to the smartphone already have a unified inbox on both platforms. By setting alternate e-mail accounts to deliver messages to the primary Exchange inbox by default, those messages are then synced with Exchange, and delivered to the smartphone along with the rest of the Exchange messages.
• Apps. The Apple App Store has about 200,000 apps -- a four to one advantage over the 50,000 apps available in the Android Market. It is debatable whether or not that matters. Certainly 200,000 is more than 50,000, but even 50,000 is a ridiculous number of apps. The core apps used for business productivity can probably be boiled down to a couple hundred, so odds are fair that you can find an "app for that" on either platform.
• Flash. Apple is not allowing Adobe Flash on the IOS4 platform. Much of the video content and interactive advertising on the Web is Flash-based, so the lack of Flash can be a handicap for IOS4. Adobe did announce a partnership with Greystripe to deliver Flash-based ads as HTML5 on the iPhone and iPad, but much of the Flash content on the Web will be inaccessible.
Android 2.2 does support Flash, and the Adobe Flash Player 10.1 beta for Android 2.2 is now available.
Point: Android 2.2
• Hotspot. With IOS4, tethering is now enabled from the iPhone to enable the Internet connection to be shared by other devices. However, AT&T is charging $20 a month extra just for the privilege of having the option to connect another device, and the iPad supposedly will be unable to tether with the iPhone.
Android 2.2 devices are capable of acting as mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. Up to eight devices can share the Wi-Fi connection of the Android 2.2 smartphone. Whether or not there are additional charges for the hotspot functionality, or how sharing the Internet connection will impact the data consumption and data plan charges may vary from carrier to carrier.
Point: Android 2.2