Selection Criteria For Mobile Devices
Selecting the right device for
In today's handheld device environment, you
are faced with many choices. The following list represents only a few of
- "Good old" notebooks - the
work horses of mobile computing
- PalmOS devices - PDAs like Palm
Pilot, Handspring's Visor
- Microsoft's Pocket PC or Windows CE
based devices like Compaq's IPaq
- EPOC-based devices, primarily from
- Specialized proprietary PDAs -
- Smart web-enabled phones for
- Combination devices with phone and
PDA functionality like Handspring's Visor Phone, Ericsson's R380,
Samsung SPH1300 or Kyocera QCP-6035
- Choice between ruggedized and
non-ruggedized models of certain devices
- Wearable computers for specialized
Are you confused with these choice? Do
you know the criteria that you should use - choice between pen based palm PC or
keyboard-attached clamshell variety, color or monochrome screen, backlighting, battery
life, handwriting recognition capability, size, weight, amount of main memory, and
availability of an expansion slot. Once you decide what functions and
capacity you want, the choice of devices might be quite limited.
On this topic, features and price of the basic device
only two parts of a multi-part puzzle in an enterprise project where you must deploy hundreds or
thousands units. Here the total cost of ownership, web server connectivity (over and
above PC and handheld connectivity), network management, asset management
(assets being devices, peripherals, software licenses and custom
applications downloaded into devices) and software distribution capabilities are more important issues.
ignore these issues.
Please note that handheld devices may be
used as secondary devices with your desktop device as the primary device.
In this case, you have to consider logically connectivity to your desktop
and synchronization of personal information is a more difficult issue.
Methodology for Device
Start with a functional
requirements analysis. Find out which functions are most important to
your organization or to you as a profession. No single device can
handle all functions optimally - therefore, there will be tradeoffs.
If e-mail is the most important functions, devices like RIM's
Blackberry may score high. If field data collection is more important,
it may be a Pocket PC like Compaq's iPaq.
Determine the % of time
your mobile professionals/workers spend in the field.You may
have to give different devices to different class of workers.
Determine whether it is
the handheld device or your notebook that is primary device.
Create a short list of
devices in consultation with representatives of real users e.g.
Blackberry 957, Compaq's iPaq 3650, a notebook and Palm IIIxe. Smart
phones may not be appropriate for many enterprise heavy-duty
applications. You can still use smart phones as personal organizers
and e-mail alert devices.
applications and let real users (not just programmers) test these out.
Develop a list of device
features (size, weight, form factor, memory, etc) and factors (method
of input, application development tools, security, wireless support,
device management, etc.) that you must consider. Assign weights to
each factor - higher to the most important ones. Let an unbiased group
assign score to different devices.
Allow for user training
and settling in period - most new users react to a new device and new
method of doing business in a negative fashion. Allow changeover time
Remember these devices are
both personal and corporate information devices. Some of the PDA data
is only marginally connected with corporate or enterprise
applications. Ensure that only corporate or shared data with other
members of a workgroup is synchronized. Develop
scripts for synchronization in such a way that unnecessary personal information
(address books, etc) may get synchronized. This will be
cheaper economically as well especially on wireless network where
bandwidth is expensive.
Do not wait for the
ultimate device to come into the market. Take advantage of the
productivity gains today. Plan for upgrade in 18-36 months in this
evolving market for handheld devices.
Issues at a Glance
Which OS devices
should we select - PalmOS, windows CE/PocketPC, Blackberry, EPOC or others?
Which form factor
should we choose - based on how the users intend to carry the
device - in coat pocket, carry it in the briefcase or tool
How much memory and processor (if choice is available)
and which peripherals?
Which method of input
- handwriting recognition, speech recognition (albeit, in future),
keyboard, or pen?
Do we need wireless
card for this application or can we just use synchronization from
Do we need Bluetooth
enablement of these devices today?
Can we lay the law and
standardize on one device across the organization or at least in