Mobile handset selection
Function, features, features and functions
Ed Moore, OpenWeb Product Manager, OpenWave
Where to begin?
For business users of mobile devices there are many aspects to consider when choosing devices, some of which are less obvious than others. An obvious one would be if they will be heavy email users or need custom applications, a less obvious one is do they have a car kit that will need upgrading if you change devices? There's no cost saving if a free upgrade will cost £500 per employee in car changes.
These days it's almost impossible to get a mobile device that won't make voice calls and as unlikely you'd ever want this scenario. Operator bundles rely on a given level of service charges to compensate for handset subsidies, so you may as well accept this precondition.
So now voice capability is out of the way (and text messaging likewise is universal) we can concentrate on data requirements. The two main needs here remain email access and browsing capabilities, with some custom applications a possibility. For custom applications you need an open OS such as Symbian or Windows, and remember to check compatibility with your chosen application. For email, access clients should be universal; either a standard client with POP3/IMPA4 support or a client/server solution from a commercial supplier. For browsers, stick to the built-in application but check capabilities; even the most sophisticated suffer drawbacks compared to desktop browsers, so try before you buy to ensure compatibility.
Ok, so voice and data are out the way; what else? Battery life is still important for heavy users or those away from the desk for long periods. Size may also matter for people, as well as the fundamental question of one device or two. Small voice phone and a large data device (which can be put away when not required) or a single device to keep down complexity? Two devices may require you to choose a mobile operator that can support multi-SIM (two SIM cards on one contract), which can restrict choice. The impact on roaming charges may also need to be considered in this.
Important decisions now out of the way, you come to the clash between vanity and standardisation. Many companies like to standardise on particular models or vendors of handset, but this is no good if models change every three months. You need to look at new devices or those slanted to business users with a long life. Car kits need to be universal and Bluetooth headset compatibility needs to be standard (for those long car journeys). Vanity though will lead to your employee asking for the latest and sexiest devices. Change devices frequently and get the latest possible devices with great new features please. If your company provides company cars, talk to the person in charge of these. They should have good ideas on how to keep these desires in place.