With mobile penetration exceeding 100% of the population, wireless and mobility has truly become part and parcel of Australian business. Developments in mobile technology, from the launches of broadband 3.5G networks to the proliferation of smart mobile devices, have taken Australian enterprise mobility movements to new heights in the past 18 months.

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Australian-based telecom market researcher Telsyte has recently released a report titled “Australian Business Smart Phone Vendors, 2007 Competitive Analysis” based on interviews with executives Australia’s six leading smart phone suppliers: Nokia, RIM, Palm, Motorola, i-Mate and Sony Ericsson redmi note 8.

Telsyte research finds that the Australian business smart phone market is two-tier, with the first tier dominated by proprietary operating system device vendors Nokia and RIM. However strong preference for Microsoft Windows is providing second-tier suppliers such as Palm, Motorola, i-Mate, O2 and Samsung – an opportunity to catch up as smart phones become more mainstream. Other key findings from that study include:

· Mobile email continues to reign supreme as the number-one mobile business application among corporate Australia. However, future growth will be driven by the “second wave” of mobile applications – the mobilisation of business process-centric applications led by such applications as customer relationship management, sales force and field force automation.

· The “hottest” mobile technologies are 3G and smart phones, with usage of these two technologies expect to reach 60% of Australian firms in the next 12 months.

· Three-quarters of one million smart phones will be shipped in Australia in 2007, constituting 8% of all mobile phone shipments. The share of smart phones shipped will double by 2010, with shipments as a proportion of all mobile devices growing from 1 in 12 currently to nearly 1 in 6 in three years’ time.

· Based on six critical competitive parameters, including a device vendor’s control over device design and manufacturing, availability of form factors and customisability of applications, control over operating system, and public brand awareness, Nokia emerges as the best-positioned vendor in the Australian business smart phone marketplace, followed closely by RIM, manufacturer of the BlackBerry solution and the only major vendor currently without 3G devices.

· Nokia scores high in fixed-mobile functionality, offers the most comprehensive features incorporating consumer and enterprise functionality, and performs extremely well on brand awareness.

· RIM’s strengths lie in the full control of its own operating system, which delivers the unique secure push email experience. RIM also scores well in device manufacturing and application customisation.

· Both Sony Ericsson and Motorola have a weak line-up of business smart phones. (This is surprising given they both are or associated with telecom network equipment vendors). However, they have more than compensated with rich consumer features.

· Palm has rejuvenated its standing by launching the latest smart phones, which are 3G-enabled and run the Microsoft Windows operating system, while i-Mate continues to focus on high-end devices and takes advantage of the Microsoft momentum.

· All smart phone vendors are adopting a wait-and-see approach with respect to WiMAX support in devices. Meanwhile, the promotion of WiFi functionality in smart phones – and vendors’ launch of WiFi-enabled device – appears to be rather significantly influenced by mobile operators, cautious of the potential cannibalisation effect of WiFi on their business.

· The battle of mobile operating systems is still on, with half of business users undecided. With Apple iPhone jumping into the fray with its own operating system, this battle will further intensify.

· While Nokia and RIM dominate the business smart phone market currently, very strong interest in Microsoft Windows as the mobile operating system of choice is providing tier-two device vendors an opportunity to emerge in this fast-growing market.

· Nokia also leads in terms of user perceptions on competitive pricing, ease of use, technology innovation, PC compatibility, business offerings and design. Not surprisingly, RIM fares well in technology innovation, business offerings and PC compatibility while Motorola and Sony Ericsson, more popular among smaller-size companies, perform relatively well in ease of use and design.

· Convergence of functionality is underway as enterprise-focused devices like BlackBerry and i-Mate are increasingly incorporating consumer-focused features with the addition of rich media, while consumer-focused device vendors like Sony Ericsson are incorporating the best-of-breed solutions including QWERTY keys, push email to appeal to the enterprise user.

Telsyte recommends that smart phone vendors differentiate by offering choice of form factors, lead with the latest features, market directly to uses to gain mindshare, and reach out to the IT managers with specific solutions. For business users, Telsyte recommends standardising operating systems to create synergies and optimise costs across platforms, and planning for fixed-mobile convergence.