Why mobile operating systems don’t matter anymore

30 07 2014

It seems odd to do a whole series on mobile operating systems then follow end it with this oddly named blog but I wanted to underline the whole thing by just showing where OS is going and 2014 and beyond.

At the end of the day I’ve switched mobile device about twice every year and have various ones for various scenarios of my life.  OK, so I’m in the business and i’m also a bit of a gadget freak but at the end of the day I wouldn’t do it unless it was easy.  What I’m trying to say is that mobile OS’s have evolved these days to being so similar in many respects that switching from one to the other is now simple. I have a Samsung note 3, sporting Android v4.4 as my every day phone right now but at the weekends I revert to my smaller, more DIY and going out friendly iphone 4S.  All my emails are on both devices, all my data is stored on Drop box anyway including all my photos and my appointments and contacts are all kept safe and sound via a google account that syncs to all my devices, whatever they are.

However when we come to the Enterprise world, typically people are using devices for 1 or 2 specific purposes, the devices are often locked down to that and as such the users probably don’t know what OS they have on them anyway. Add to this many businesses don’t have, can’t get or are removing their own OS expertise as it becomes too difficult and indeed expensive to keep up so OS choice is ironically becoming less of an issue in the Enterprise world or at least should do as the whole provision of a mobile solution is outsourced to the right technology partners.

So that brings me to what’s going on in the future then? Well 4G is a driving force as it is the technology that might finally make our mobile devices 100% connected.  Once this happens why would we use an app over a good old optimised website?  That means we can all use familiar web and database technologies to build anything we want on mobile and not worry about the OS that is using them.  Sure we’ll have browser issues like we do now, but these represent a far easier issue than having the wrong OS or app.

We’re already seeing this shift with things like Firefox OS which runs it’s whole operating system within the Firefox browser and as hybrid frameworks get better and better at providing developers the lower hardware levels needed to unlock all the features of a device I think we’ll see a fundamental shift in features and solutions and the benefits they bring rather than a focus on the technology they run on.

So I would ask are businesses going to even care about OS in the future or a solution that just works for them?



Choosing a mobile OS for Enterprise – Top 10 check list questions

28 07 2014
Every mobile OS brings certain benefits and issues with it.

Every mobile OS brings certain benefits and issues with it.

We had some great questions last week about mobile OS so I decided to write a few more blogs about some of them.  Today we have a top 10 check list to help you choose the right mobile OS for your enterprise.

1. Need an app?

Have you already got an app or solution that works on a particular OS.  If so then you might be tied to the OS already.

2. Expertise available

What expertise have you got at your disposal?  Do you have .NET developers already?  Will IOS or Android resource be easy to find and available within your budget?

3. Integration

Perhaps one of Microsoft’s few remaining big USP’s is to make sure your mobile devices can integrate and communicate effectively, securely and easily with your back end servers.

4. Familiarity

How familiar does the device need to be?  Having a bunch of Android loving Engineers might mean adopting the same OS for their mobile work tool is the clever option, saving on training and even end user satisfaction.

5. Choice of devices

Android, IOS and Windows Mobile will all have restrictions on the type of device you can use.  IOS only runs on non-rugged Apple kit, Android is here but tends to run on more smartphone form factor rugged devices and Windows mobile still has the greatest choice, but for how long?

6. Upgrade paths

Do you understand the upgrade paths of each OS, how long will it be current and how easy will it be to update and stay supported?

7. Features

What kind of features do you need for your mobile application.  If RFID is core then IOS is out.  If you need a feature packed OS with the latest abilities then Windows Mobile is perhaps not the way to go.

8. What will the device be used for?

Make sure you know what the device is going to be used for.  If it’s going to be kept open so users can use the phone, texts email etc then things like familiarity might become more important. If it’s doing 1 task and locked to that task then developing an app quickly with resources you already have might be the most important factor to consider.

9. Data capture features

Which OS is best for building in barcode scanning or RFID features into my application.  Android takes a very different “intent” based approach to the older SDK way Windows Mobile handles these kinds of features.  IOS is reliant on the supplying hardware.

10. Supporting applications

Whilst enterprise solutions tend to not use the “App store” of an OS, it still might be important to know just how easily you can get certain process driving apps on top your devices.  It’s also important to understand if the essential apps you need to use for Mobile device management or Kiosking are available for the chosen OS.



RAM Q&A of the week – Mobile OS

25 07 2014


Our Q&A summary of the week, covers everything Raptor this week!.  Keep the questions rolling in @ruggedandmobile or using #RAMQQ or using Facebook.

1. Great series of blogs by the way, I’m no longer confused but I’m still worried about making a 5 year commitment. Can you help?

A big question! I can’t answer that one directly as it depends on your business and strategy and even then I think you need a crystal ball to get it right 100%!

If you need rugged devices then it’s WM, WE8 or Android. Also the fact that your talking 5 years would make me worry a lot about IOS.

If you need to deploy right now then it’s WM6.5 thats going to be end of lifed soon or Android.

Look for a device that will be around for that long and also focus on what the OS on that device can give you today and in the future.  Many rugged devices won’t get Android updates, or at least maybe only a couple of big ones.

Work with someone who knows the OIS and can truly help you out over the 5 years.

2. Do rugged devices get all Androids updates?

No, in fact consumer devices don’t either but that’s because they want you to buy the newer models.  IN the rugged world it’s about what the suppliers can support, remember they are writing SDK’s for scanners and all kinds of apps that they want to work for years.

I think most of the good devices we have sold have had the odd little tweak and update.  Some have updated the whole device and some haven’t updated at all.  You need to know what you want and then go with that .

3. We use Apple iPhones and they’re superb, why do you seem to bash them a bit on here?

Because in the enterprise market they aren’t the best tool.  We love Apple kit here for our own consumer usage.  It’s also a great business level tool, bringing a secure, feature packed tool to your business workers.  However in the Data capture, rugged, enterprise level where the device is part of a direct business process, Apple kit is weak.  It has a poor roadmap, it’s locked in a little too much for our liking and it’s not supported for long enough.  It’s also not rugged, at all and a case won’t make much difference!

4. Will Windows Embedded 8 look like Windows Phone and have capacitive screens?

Yes and yes!  The OS looks much like the Windows Phone one and the screens will be big and capacitive.

5. Can you develop for WE8 on a Windows 7 development machine?

No, you need Windows 8 Pro.  Half of us use W8 here and we have a 100% dissatisfaction rate with it.  It has tonnes of connection issues when we test PDA’s and the OS itself is horrible.

Keep sending those questions in, use #RAMQQ on twitter @ruggedandmobile or just email them in.


The mobile OS for Enterprise conundrum!

23 07 2014
What OS strategy do you choose for your business today?

What OS strategy do you choose for your business today?

So with so many mobile OS choices, how do you choose the best one for your business solution?  I personally think that it’s all now boiling down to how easy it is to develop applications for an OS and I believe the battle in our “enterprise” market will not be won by just the OS and companies that can make it easy to develop, deploy and support their OS, but also to the ones who make it easy to innovate, adopt and own the OS as part of a unique solution offered by resellers and software houses alike.

Here at RAM we’re of course tweaking OS’s and helping customers with them all the time but we’ve found that less and less time is spent on the same set up tasks on Android than with Windows Mobile but instead we’re getting questions that are delving far more deeply into the features of the OS.  For example we get a lot of questions about how to get devices talking to each other, how to get “things” talking to each other and USB and Bluetooth communication.  Indeed it seems people are doing a lot more with their OS’s than ever before as businesses need to innovate more than ever to simply survive.

It seems the Windows mobile adopters aren’t the ones at the forefront of innovation any longer, pushing the OS envelope out.

Will this be Apples Achilles heel?  Maybe, it’s still highly targeted by many software houses, has a decent accessory platform and is well catered for through hybrid development frameworks and the recent launch of SWIFT means IOS has just been made easier to develop for, but is Apple able to open up enough and support those developing for their platform better?

Google on the other hand are actually having to address too many flavours of Android on the market being a victim of their own success if you like.  Openness isn’t a problem here and Android is as popular now with hybrid development frameworks but developers haven’t quite adopted it like the IOS tribe just yet.

Microsoft is a mess.  There… I said it!  They had the enterprise market cornered but have just given it to Android on a silver plate. There’s lots of rhetoric, loads of people stating they know what’s going on but won’t put pen to paper themselves, but I sit and talk with lots of Rugged suppliers every week and none of them know for sure.  I can talk to Apple, I talk to Android people but we’re a  Microsoft house here and I can’t remember the last time they talked to us.  Windows Embedded 8 forces developers to use Windows 8, new expensive tools have to be bought and from personal experience it’s easier to convert existing apps to Android in my view.  I think Microsoft have their work cut out re-gaining the trust of their loyal tribe before they can go take more market share.  However they’re still Microsoft, they still own half the server market, they still have a string desktop presence, despite the radical pressure from mobile devices and many businesses will welcome a fresh Microsoft tool set which will have a lot of help and support built-in.

Blackberry is easy.  They’re gone, we’re all just waiting for them to leave the party, it’s starting to get awkward now!

So if you’re currently looking for the right mobile OS it’s not easy, you need to think and the next blog will try to address that…


Rugged and Mobile Twitter hits 2000 followers!

22 07 2014
200 Twitter Followers

200 Twitter Followers

I just wanted to use todays blog to say thank-you to everyone who follows us and joins in on the conversation on Twitter.  It gives this blog a lot of exposure and all the re-tweets and mentions we get from people are so gratefully received.

We’re working out our next phase for Twitter right now so will hopefully be bringing even more value to everything we talk and engage about.

A big thank-you from all of the RAM team.


Choosing the right Mobile Operating System

21 07 2014
What mobile OS's are there?

What mobile OS’s are there?

Good morning from a gloriously and rather unusual sunny Liverpool! 7AM and 18 degrees Celsius, you can’t ask for more!!!

Never before have we seen such diversity in real industry strength operating systems and whilst choice is normally a good thing, too much of a good thing can often be confusing and paralysing when it comes to actually making that choice.  Mobile operating systems used to be easy. Windows mobile was the go to OS, some liked CE but even that dried up so everyone knew where they stood.  These days there are a plethora of OS’s and this week I wanted to make sure you understand exactly where you stand with them, starting today with an overview of all the mobile OS’s with their pros and cons.


Windows mobile is still the live operating system from Microsoft and these days it has been rebadged “Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5.” It’s still largely the same OS from when WM 6.5 was launched way back in 2009 but to be honest it was never meant to be anything more than a stop-gap OS so its not much different to WM 6.1 which celebrates it’s 6 year anniversary this year.

Windows Embedded 8 has been talked about more recently due to some handsets finally sporting and testing it but licenses are extremely restricted for the OS and as I sit here today, I know of no WE8 handsets that are freely available for purchase just yet.  WE8 is the next OS in the Windows Mobile/WEH range and will the OS that sits on data capture equipment.

Microsoft have another OS called “Windows Phone 8″ but this is for consumer smartphones only, we don’t really do much with it here.  WIndows 8 and Windows RT are seen on tablets.

Android goes from strength to strength!

Android goes from strength to strength!


Android is the OS of the moment. It’s taking up market share in all of the consumer, business and enterprise markets.  We’re selling as many Android rugged devices as we are Windows Mobile ones these days and it is here to stay.  You can tell from the version adoption figures on Google’s own site that the OS is no longer only used by those chasing the latest version, but by businesses who want the most stable releases a few points back and Android is now officially eroding market share in established Apple iPhone countries like the UK, Europe and even USA.

Android is so easy to develop, tweak and install that pretty much every new rugged device we’ve seen this year has been Android based or at least has, had an Android OS option.

Just 1 OS version sits on any mobile smart phone, Rugged PDA or tablet making it simple to get familiar with.

Apple IOS

IOS is still a strong contender in the mobile market and depending on your country makes up for 15-50% of mobile devices. Apple kit is a closed OS system so you can only use it on Apples hardware.  This brings IOS  the hard-fought reputation that it just works, however you are at the behest of Apple and when they decide to stop developing for or supporting a version of IOS you are using.  Apple are the king of “Early redundancy of hardware” so versions tend to go out of support a lot earlier than people think making IOS not the best choice when it comes to enterprise solutions with 3-5 year ROI.


Once the darling of the business world, BB has slipped to almost nothing in the past few years. Dependant on a shaky OS platform that couldn’t support the demanded features that the latest OS’s could bring, they decided to switch to an Android platform with their latest handset releases in the hope could plug the gap but haven’t really done so.  Even Blackberry Messenger has been released for Android and IOS, now meaning there’s no real USPs in having a Blackberry solution any longer, and you might as well not lock yourself in.


There are other platforms but they make up so little of the market I’m not going to go in to them here. next we’ll talk about the pro’s and cons of each OS in the Rugged/Enterprise world.



RAM Q&A of the week – Raptors

18 07 2014


Our Q&A summary of the week, covers all kinds this week!.  Keep the questions rolling in @ruggedandmobile or using #RAMQQ or using Facebook.

1. Is there a trend towards bigger screens in the rugged market in your opinion?

Yes, we are definitely seeing more people who are talking about 5″ and more at the moment and the market is ill served right now in this area too.  The best device we sell is the Raptor R5. It has a better spec than anything else with a large screen.

2. What’s different about the new Workabout Pro 4?

Well it’s the first Motorola badged WAP and it does bring a few changes with it.  We blogged about that right here.

3. Are there any devices coming out soon that will have the new Octa-Chipset?

Actually yes, we’re talking to one of our manufacturers right now about a new update that’s coming very soon.  Octa-chipsets, huge RAM and lots more.  Its unusual for a rugged device to be so up to date like this.

4. I was told that Android would be a fleeting trend and it would go away.  Can you tell me exactly if that’s true?

Android is certainly not going away and it’s sales figures in the developed and Asian markets are still eating up market share, even from Apple.  Add to this we’re selling as many Android devices here now as we do Windows Mobile so you do the maths!

5. Is there a new OS replacement for Windows Mobile?

Yes it’s called Windows Embedded 8 and it is currently being piloted, although we’re seeing a few more devices touting the OS now, whether they’re available I’m not sure, everyone wants to be the first!  We’re going to be talking about WE8 next week.

I’ve had to limit this week to the top 5 due to time but keep sending those questions in, use #RAMQQ on twitter @ruggedandmobile or just email them in.


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