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New mobile devices sweep the market in late 2012

The fall of 2012 saw a new crop of mobile devices hitting the market—which means IT teams have new devices and operating systems to look out for.

Christmas came early for gadget-loving end users this year. With all the new smartphones and tablets hitting the market this fall—and making their way into the workplace—IT has even more devices to keep an eye on.

The iPhone 5 will be the most prevalent of this latest batch, as Apple sold 5 million units in its first weekend alone. It’s the first iPhone that supports LTE networks, so it could lessen the strain on corporate Wi-Fi networks. But if your company pays for employees’ data plans, keep an eye on the bills: LTE lets devices consume a lot more data than their 3G counterparts. The new iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 6, also allows more apps to tie into iCloud, so also watch out for new ways that corporate data can leave the firewall.

Microsoft's responses to Apple's device dominance are Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8. Windows 8, an x86-based desktop OS, and the Windows RT OS, which is for ARM-based tablets, offer a completely different, touch-based interface than people are used to, with interactive tiles replacing desktop icons. Because of this major shift, your IT department probably won’t upgrade anytime soon, but forward-thinking employees may decide to give these new devices a spin on their own dime. Windows Phone offers some enterprise-familiar features, such as Outlook and Office 365 integration, but it hasn’t proven very popular with consumers yet. Windows 8 and Windows RT devices were scheduled to ship in late October, followed by Windows Phone 8 later this fall.

When Amazon’s original Kindle Fire came out last year, some expected the low-cost Android tablet to become a common sight in the workplace. That didn’t really happen, mostly because of the Kindle Fire's focus on media consumption. (It didn’t even have a native Microsoft Exchange client.) This year’s version, the Kindle Fire HD, does support Exchange. IT teams should watch out for more Kindle business use, but the device's primary purpose remains for people to read books and magazines, listen to music and watch movies and TV shows.

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