Mobile market starting to live up to the hype

The enterprise marketplace is finally starting to embrace mobile and wireless technologies in a way that befits the 'hype and expectation' in the sector, according to IDC

The rollout of mobile data devices by businesses is starting to meet previous years' "hype and expectation", according to new figures for Western Europe from IDC.

The analyst house says devices such as standalone PDAs and smartphones are increasingly central to IT strategy. Smartphone shipments have in recent quarters started to outstrip those of traditional handhelds, but for IT departments that isn't necessarily the case.

"The standalone dominates," said Geoff Blaber, IDC research analyst, European Mobile Devices. "The IT decision-maker now has more experience and confidence in this area, more so than with smartphones or telephony-enabled PDAs."

Over the past two years enterprise mobility has had its false dawns. Eighteen months ago ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com's CIO Jury panel disagreed with another major analyst house, placing mobile and wireless connectivity farther down their to-do list.

IDC's Blaber said: "The market reality is only now, in 2005, starting to meet the [previous] hype and expectation."

Reasons for a bullish approach on the part of enterprises include a growing range of mobile hardware and software (including middleware related to functions such as messaging), and improvements in security, compatibility and user experience.

Usage is also moving away from just voice and personal information management (PIM) to a point where applications, in some cases related to CRM or other enterprise systems, are being used more flexibly.

In terms of messaging — still the biggest reason for an enterprise mobility strategy — the market is facing consolidation. Research In Motion, with its Blackberry devices and server software, leads the way in a field that also includes big boys such as Microsoft and Symbian as well as newer names such as Good, Seven/Smartner and Visto, in an area that is consolidating.

IDC also point out that many IT departments are now at a point where, before this year, they had been allocating essential hardware renewals, but now budget has been freed up for a mobility strategy.

Other market research has recently found spending on mobile technology will far outstrip general IT spend over the coming year, which has predicted growth rates of 20 percent and 2.5 percent respectively.

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