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Mobile 'time of turmoil': Where do the students stand?

With the mobile market in turmoil, the new developments are still not holding back. Will students be recognised no more as a niche market?
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor on

The mobile market is in a mess at the moment. Apple is suing HTC, Nokia and Apple are slapping each other with lawsuits and Microsoft is always being shafted by somebody. It's all getting very messy as they bring out competing devices with no major differentiating factors. The mobile industry is in turmoil, yet it carries on ticking over somehow.

Business users are not happy as Microsoft has broken backwards compatibility between Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile 6.5, meaning the applications for 6.5 will not work on 7. Yet with this, 7 will open up a whole range of other technologies such as Silverlight and XNA, meaning these new phones could well be more appealing to the younger demographic.

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Silverlight, being the main competitor to Flash, is at least making an appearance on mobile devices. Flash won't be installed as per default on the iPad but Adobe is working hard to try and support it. Meanwhile, the iPhone still doesn't support Flash (but might soon) but Microsoft is trying to get Silverlight on there, even though Ballmer says "don't bet on it".

Yet, on the other hand, Microsoft said Flash will not be on Windows Phone 7 devices, as the two competitors continue to spit the dummy at each other. Apple at the moment is being stubborn as a mule, whereas Research in Motion, the BlackBerry manufacturer, is bumbling along ignorant of everybody else while it tries to snap up both Flash and Silverlight for its handsets.

It's all very confusing. All the aforementioned companies are engaging in fistycuffs while Research in Motion is in the corner crying, overwhelmed with all the commotion yet feeling equally left out.

Where do the students stand in all of this? Apple loves that the iPhone has been so popular with students, but had no idea it was going to be. Microsoft is aiming their new "Pink" phone in students' direction but the software capabilities aren't hugely clear yet. And Research in Motion is pleased but surprised at the shift in demographics as students increasingly want and buy BlackBerry handsets.

Students want very few things in a mobile device. Aesthetics aren't as important as they used to be but messaging is more important than anything else out there. BlackBerry Messenger seems to be the killer feature for the device which is why so many students are going BlackBerry.

Application support made the iPhone immensely popular, but also seems to be unique (or relatively affluent) with the iPhone. As BlackBerry and Windows Mobile (including Phone 7) devices either have a lacking or no marketplace to download free applications, this drags them way behind Apple.

Forget the Android. I have one friend who has an Android phone and he threw it against the wall in a fit of anger after a week of owning it. And this man, rest assured, is the most laid back, calm and non-violent gentleman I have ever known.

The QWERTY keyboard is one of the main things that grabs the attention of the student nowadays. As Microsoft's Pink phone seems to have this, it could well make it a popular choice once it decides to show the light of day.

But frankly, I'm banging my head against a brick wall because Microsoft, RIM, Apple, and all the other major mobile corporations just don't make it clear that they even care what students think. But with this wave of new design prototypes and detail focused on multiple communications, I'm starting to think otherwise.

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