Monday, December 29, 2008

An iPhones is My Mobile Phone and Handheld PDA

I have and use an iPhone as my primary mobile computing device which means a PDA or Smartphone. It has some exceptional features including:
  • GPS
  • Easy application uploading and updating
  • High speed Internet
  • Great screen
  • Many great operational features for ease of use

However, the iPhone has some problems or is missing some key features that are required by business users including:

  • GPS fails to track fast enough to use while driving
  • GPS fails to pinpoint the location of the user
  • No TASK function - Apple has not included even a basic TASK function. Many of my colleagues use the standard Microsoft TASK function regularly, and Apple's exclusion of this simple but useful tool is strange
  • No CUT and PASTE function - The exclusion of this feature is another strange choice by Apple - who wants to retype every note or phone number that needs to be moved around on the iPhone....what a pain. My only guess is that Apple wants to train us to email everything to a desktop or laptop for editing....very strange and inefficient
  • The keyboard on the iPhone is clever, but Apple makes another very strange choice to limit the email keyboard to portrait view only. The Internet browser permits a landscaped keyboard which is very nice, but the keyboard in the email only allows portrait...this view of the keyboard is too small for fast and effective 2 fingered typing. Why would they limit the keyboard in the very application where fast typing is most required?
  • The landscape view of an Internet browser is too small for viewing. It is nice that they try to show you a complete view of a full sized website, but it is too small for real use. You continue to find yourself enlarging the view and scrolling all around the website to view it. Not convenient or enjoyable.

I spent some time reviewing all of the applications available on iTunes for the iPhone in December 2008. There were many interesting applications, but there was an obvious lack of real business applications. I consider real business applications as running relational databases and synchronizing or communicating directly with recognized business software applications like SAP. Where are the applications that extend workflows from ERPs into the field?

The lack of real business applications again points to the challenging environment of mobile software. The market is so fragmented that mobile users will find it hard to find a mobile version of their exact ERP or Field Service application. This means companies will need to develop their own customized version, use an experienced mobile software development company or use a mobile software development tool kit from a company like MobileDataforce.

Why is it hard to find a mobile version of your office software? Software companies need to find markets where they can build one software application and then sell it many times to make a profit. In IT environments where customized database applications and customized workflows are the norm, mobile software companies are not able to pre-build mobile applications. They don't know how you want the application to function or what data you need in the field. This must be configured on a customized basis in most companies. Therefore, companies need to work with a mobile software company that can offer a cost effective, very flexible mobile software toolkit so you can take advantage of their tools, synchronizing technologies and application development environments to keep the development costs reasonable.