Posted Mon, 15 Mar 2010 by Steve Kopstick
Microsoft’s recent announcements related to Windows Phone 7 made me think about how end users get to their data and documents stored in Microsoft SharePoint repositories from the road. While many organizations make some or all of their internal collaboration facilities available over the Internet (using SSL, for example), most current mobile phones have limited-functionality browsers that are not very good at displaying SharePoint’s rich functionality.
The good news is that Windows Phone 7, recently announced for the end of 2010, will address some of these shortcomings by offering an “Office integration hub” to allow users to access certain assets securely through their phones. So far, we haven’t seen much more than conceptual mock-ups, but Microsoft has shown prototype phones at the MIX10 conference, and many ‘activity hubs’ (e.g. social networking) have already been completed, so we can safely assume that it’s more than slideware at this point.
In other good news, there are rich SharePoint client applications available for phones from other manufacturers. For example, Australian-based Spyk Software, a Microsoft partner, has published iShare, a free SharePoint client for the Apple iPhone, which works very well. There is no equally obvious choice for BlackBerry users yet. While there seem to be a number of companies working on client software for the BlackBerry, I didn’t find anything that was marketed as more than a prototype, concept or as a ‘solution’ with no immediately obvious price tag.
However, whether Windows Mobile 7 will begin to displace the BlackBerry as the enterprise smart phone of choice remains to be seen. Initial indications are that it is aimed at consumers and being positioned as a direct competitor to the iPhone and the various Google Android phones.
Organizations will increasingly need to extend the availability of their internal knowledge assets and business process applications to the smart phones of their employees to meet the demands for “mobile EIM,” and Windows Phone 7 may well prove to be an important step in that direction.