As loyal readers will recall, I've been hunting for a smartphone for several weeks now and asking for feedback from all of you about what to choose. I wanted my choice to be something Exchange administrators are currently having to support—or using themselves—as well as being something that is likely to be an enterprise standard device in the years to come. Many readers took part in the polls I posted to get feedback on the best features, mobile OS, and hardware vendors, as well as responded to my posts and emailed me with opinions, all of which I appreciate immensely. Now it's time to reveal my choice.
Drum roll, please: I'll be using the Motorola Droid.
OK, it's not that dramatic. But I'm very happy and excited about my choice, and I look forward to getting to know the device when it arrives in a couple of days and sharing the experience with you. In the meantime, I'd like to go through some of my decision process and how I used the feedback I received from everyone.
To start with, I felt inclined to choose a Windows Mobile device. As we're Windows IT Pro, using a smartphone based on Windows just seemed appropriate, even with the knowledge that Microsoft's mobile OS currently trails well behind other mobile OSs in features and functionality. The results from the polls I included with my first post on this topic actually seemed to indicate that Windows Mobile is still more prevalent out there now than I'd thought, and Windows Mobile 6.5 is a promising update.
When I asked, in my second post, about which mobile device makers were most reliable, HTC was the runaway leader, with Motorola a distant second. Because my IT department would be supplying my phone—and related contract—I knew I was looking for a phone on the Verizon network. However, HTC's choice for running on WinMo 6.5 with Verizon is limited to the HTC Imagio, which is apparently not using the most up-to-date processor; many reviewers complained that the Imagio runs slow and freezes up when running multiple apps.
And now, of course, Microsoft has begun discussing their next mobile platform permutation, dubbed Windows Phone 7 Series. It looks fairly impressive. It has a chance to win back some market share for Microsoft. But it's still months away from availability—and no existing devices will be able to upgrade: It's a new beast, requiring new hardware. And in any case, I can't really wait till next Christmas to make a choice.
Meanwhile, throughout my search, I kept receiving nudges toward the Android OS and the Droid in particular. One of the first steps I took on my search was to see what our Exchange expert, Paul Robichaux, thought of the current crop of mobile OSs. His take on Android was that it's a "wildcard" with a shot at establishing a real presence in the enterprise market—possibly at the expense of RIM BlackBerry and other front-running mobile platforms.
Many people believe that a single mobile platform won't dominate the market in the foreseeable future. And when I asked in a poll what readers thought likely, most seemed to agree with this point (although the leading vote-getter was for Windows Mobile dominance; was that just wishful thinking?). Then last week, I spoke to Brian Reed, chief marketing officer of BoxTone, makers of mobile device management and monitoring solutions. In talking with him about BoxTone's predictions for mobile management by 2015, he also pointed to Android as one of the three mobile OSs likely to continue to thrive, along with iPhone and BlackBerry devices. Reed felt that Microsoft has a chance to crack the top three with its Windows Phone 7 Series, but it's too early to tell for certain.
As I pointed out when I asked about which specific features were necessary for a business-class smartphone, I'm a little leery of using a touch screen, but most readers seem to believe touch screens increase productivity. I'm willing to give it a shot. But when it came down to it, I really like the physical keyboard option on the Motorola Droid; that was probably the biggest factor in my choice of this particular device. But even the Droid's on-screen keyboard seemed more accurate than the other touch screen models I sampled at my local Verizon store. And with my clumsiness with touch screens so far, the fact that the Droid isn't multitouch actually shows up in the plus column for me.
I guess I'd say that along with everything else, the cool factor of the Droid was an influence in my choice as well. It's such a sleek and beautiful-looking device, with a big, hi-res screen. And further, did you know that the term Droid is a trademark of Lucasfilm? I'm sure this springs from the use of the word in the Star Wars films, although I'm a bit surprised that such a small change from the word android was worthy and acceptable as a trademark. Nonetheless, all of Motorola's Droid web pages, TV commercials, and other documentation bear the Lucasfilm notice.
There's much more to talk about, I'm sure, but I'll save it for future posts. And naturally I'll keep you informed of what I think of the Droid and the smartphone experience in general as I get further into it.