"You're going to get lots of different devices, and you're going to have to back up and worry about the software rather than the hardware," Gartner vice president Ken Delaney told a breakfast seminar on the future of mobile enterprise computing in Sydney. "You can no longer build systems to last; you have to build systems to change. We're not going to get full convergence."
Pointing to the frequent stealth adoption of technologies such as wireless networks and BlackBerry, Dulaney said that the "Imelda Marcos scenario" of senior executives with office drawers overflowing with redundant handheld devices would haunt IT managers for some time to come.
"The BlackBerry has mushroomed here in Australia. If RIM [Blackberry developer Research in Motion] was ever to go away, I think the government would fail -- they've got BlackBerrys all over the place in Canberra, he said.
While Delaney praised the general BlackBerry design compared to its rivals, he added that attempts to use it as a full notebook substitute were futile. "People who want to read attachments on a BlackBerry are really looking for a zero-kilogram notebook, and that's not going to happen."
There were also concerns over running an operating system with no competition in hardware. "What a lot of people want is something that looks like a BlackBerry but has a Microsoft interface."
That battle will likely spell the end for Palm in corporates, Delaney predicted. "Palm will be less and less an enterprise player. If you are on Palm OS for an application, it's probably time to think about something else."
Despite attempts by manufacturers to cram multiple functions into handhelds, no single standard was likely to dominate, he said. "We will not see physical convergence, but we will see prioritisation by device."
"If you were to go to Japan and buy a mobile phone, you would be offered a choice of between 300 and 400. That's coming to Australia, and that scenario wreaks havoc with the enterprise."