Year in review: Mobile wars

In the world of mobility, 2008 will probably be remembered as the year Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) finally faced a viable challenge to its smart phone supremacy in the enterprise.

Apple Inc.’s iPhone hit Canadian shelves earlier this year and it has also started to hit the pockets of big-time corporate executives. But not before weeks of rumours and speculation from Rogers Wireless.

When Rogers finally announced the device’s arrival, the talk quickly switched toward the company’s extravagant data rates and how much the device would cost consumers.

From an enterprise adoption perspective, some pundits speculated that Rogers’ plan, plus Apple’s strong focus on consumers rather than business, made it an unlikely candidate to challenge RIM. This sort of thinking didn’t change until Apple released the iPhone v2, which added significant business functionality.

With Apple making its device more business-friendly, RIM decided to return the favour. In a move that many felt was a direct response to the iPhone’s success, RIM unleashed its touch screen BlackBerry Storm in the hopes of expanding the enterprise device to the consumer market. Unfortunately for RIM, the reviews have been fairly mixed to this point.

Some analysts have even speculated that Google’s Android initiative is part of a larger enterprise strategy, especially with the smart phone quickly becoming as integral as the laptop computer for most business users.

As the project progressed, the lack of Bluetooth functionality from the platform’s SDK and lingering questions about Google’s commitment to open standards, cast some doubt on the project.

And like most first generation phones, the Android-based T-Mobile G1 was released with few features and many questions about its viability as an enterprise device.

But this whole Google versus RIM versus Apple debate might actually be a moot point in the near future. That’s because students at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) unveiled a bunch of concept phones that could eventually challenge the industry giants.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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