The Phone for You, the Small Business Owner
If you’re a small business owner, you probably have a smartphone, and if you don’t have one, you probably wish you had one. They’re handy – whether it’s getting your emails when you’re away from your computer, or getting a text, or making a phone call. Not to mention being able to take a photo of a product you saw somewhere that you might want to sell in your store, or, being able to update your Twitter account while waiting in the checkout line at Home Depot.
But, which one to buy? There are four main OS (operating system) platforms to pick from; Android, Apple, BlackBerry and Windows 8. The Android OS (developed by Google) is available on a dizzying array of phones from lots of manufacturers, the Apple OS is available only on Apple iPhones, the BlackBerry OS is available only on a BlackBerry phone, and Windows 8 (developed by Microsoft) can work on just about any phone, but is offered on only a couple of phones from manufacturers at this moment, because it just came out recently, and it is not a popular OS with the public so far.
Android phones are the new 800-lb gorilla in the marketplace, growing in popularity by leaps and bounds, crushing the all-important “new shipments” number put up by Apple every month now. Android phones have a big screen and do a lot of cool stuff in terms of taking videos, playing games, listening to music, social media, watching TV programs, etc. And there are hundreds of thousands of “apps” available for the Android platform, which are programs designed to live on your phone and do things like help you lose weight, rent a car, find the nearest Chinese restaurant, etc. The Android platform has experienced an incredible rate of adoption lately, and is outpacing the Apple OS by a wide margin in terms of sales these days.
The Apple iPhone inspires fierce devotion among its owners, and does almost everything the top-of-the-line Android phones do, and sometimes does those things better. It’s also very sleek from a design perspective, and is an industrial product designer’s dream phone. Additionally, the IPhone has a tremendous amount of apps designed for it, just like the Android platform. However, an important consideration when purchasing an iPhone is that everything Apple makes runs on their proprietary system and doesn’t work on anything else. For example, if you download a song from the Apple iTunes store onto your iPhone, it is in the iTunes format and cannot be converted to the standard MP3 format to play on other devices. You can play it only on a computer or a phone that has the Apple software on it.
BlackBerry is the company that started the smartphone revolution, but their offerings have lagged behind in recent years in terms of product content and the company fell on hard times. But, they have new product out as of the last two months, and those phones are getting good-to-excellent reviews by everyone. Even before the new product came out, there was no better phone for sending and receiving a lot of emails, that is, getting a lot of work done. Not only that, but the BlackBerry platform is by far the most secure platform among all the smartphones. These attributes continue in the new product offerings. Since their market share of the smartphone market has shrunk to a fraction of what is used to be, BlackBerry users are also hard-core fans of the phone, particularly because of the keyboard. Other smartphones make you tap out letters on glass; the BlackBerry has a real keyboard that you can really key quickly on, thereby endearing the BlackBerry to users that send a lot of emails. As an example, Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, the company that developed Android, has a BlackBerry as his phone. Yes, you read that right. He says he just loves, loves the keyboard. President Obama uses a BlackBerry. The list goes on and on.
The Windows 8 for Phone platform is a new player, and has gotten some good reviews so far. The most notable phone it’s offered on, the Nokia Lumia 920, is a very, very nice piece of hardware (with an HD screen!), and the Windows 8 OS really shines within this device. Windows 8 would be a very useful phone to use for business in many ways, much more so than the Android or Apple phones, and by the way, it has all of the features those phones have in terms of media, sharing, etc. And it has all the phone versions of Microsoft Office software that most people use on their PC. Additionally, it has a unique “tile” format that looks very interesting in terms of usability. One thing the Windows 8 platform doesn’t have is a large library of apps, in fact, it has only a fraction of what’s available on the Android and Apple phones.
Now, here is where opinion is put into the mix. Drum roll, followed by blast on trumpet.
When teenagers or 20-somethings ask me which phone is their best choice, I tell them to get an Android-powered phone (HTC or Samsung, if we’re getting specific). If an artsy or creative type asks me which phone to get, I tell them to look at an Apple (increase the urgency by a factor of 10 if they’re already an Apple cult member). If a business executive asks me which phone works best for him or her, I tell them to take a good, long look at a BlackBerry, and now, I tell them to make sure they compare it to the new Windows 8 phone, because it’s also an excellent choice for business.
There you have it. See, that was painless. You, of course, will make your own decision, and you should, because we know plenty of artsy types with a BlackBerry, and plenty of high-powered business executives with Android phones, but we hope this helps.