As president at mobile market research firm iGR, Iain Gillott studies small-business mobile trends, but he's also a small-business entrepreneur himself. The lead in a four-man firm that he says mostly uses Apple gear--including the iconic iPhone--Gillott knows what it's like to navigate a mobile device purchase. He describes the experience as one characterized by service providers who usually see small-business users much like consumers, and small-business users who often don't analyze their own needs and desires well enough to understand what they're looking for.
Gillott advises that entrepreneurial shoppers ask themselves several questions before deciding on a handset type and service provider (important since some services are only available from limited operators).
- How important is the need to run non-business applications?
- What business applications will be required?
- Is integration with the Microsoft Exchange server required for e-mail and applications (such as calendar)?
- Is a high-quality camera or video camera required (by Realtors, for example)?
- Is push-to-talk service required, for example by contractors and couriers?
- Will the phone be used mainly with gloves on? This is important since most of the touchscreens require skin contact. (The iPhone, for example, does not work well with a gloved finger.)
- How important is image and form factor? Does the device have to be cool?
- How important is battery life? Does the device have to last more than one day without being charged?
- Will the user be staying in a single metro area? Will there be travel between metro areas? Or traveling in rural markets as well?
- Will the device also be used for music and video entertainment? For example, I use my phone to listen on music on planes.