Why it's good the mobile handset market is boring

From version to version, mobile device releases aren't that different. It might make for a boring news cycle, but it keeps prices down and simplifies the learning curve for users and IT.

The mobile handset market has become what many would describe as boring, but that means lower costs, higher end-user productivity and more consistent management for IT.

It's not a total snoozefest; new iOS and Android devices include innovations, such as high-quality cameras that make dedicated digital cameras and camcorders almost obsolete. Even so, most of these advances are evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Faster processors, more memory and more storage are givens in any new model. Screens see improved resolution, brightness and power consumption. Battery life is often better. Operating systems add new features, some of which are useful to the enterprise.

The fundamental nature of the device hasn't really changed since the introduction of the first iPhone.

For those reasons, prices are reasonable and relatively constant. Performance and value continue to improve, albeit slowly compared to the past. The fundamental nature of the devices hasn't really changed since the introduction of the first iPhone, and perhaps not all that much in concept since the first larger-form-factor BlackBerrys from 20 years ago.

Yes, keyboards are better, devices are thinner, and there are more associated cloud services. But the more things change in the mobile handset market, the more they stay the same. And this is good for organizations everywhere.

Mobile device stability keeps costs down and improves productivity

When devices remain similar from version to version, companies see a clear reduction in capital costs because they don't have to purchase new devices as often. The biggest changes to the device base affect software, and app development, deployment and support costs the most. Plus, because devices change so little, admins don't have to make major changes to their operations when users get upgrades.

Still, one aggravation that can accompany new devices is head-scratching changes to user interfaces and system functionality. Users lost productivity, for example, when the Windows interface saw wholesale changes from Windows 7 to Windows 8. This of course includes the effect of apps that suddenly no longer work properly or even at all on these new devices and OS releases. But when the hardware doesn't change much with each evolution, users can keep productivity high because they're familiar with the device.

Device consistency drives reliability

Long-term use of a device results in transparency -- the device fades into the background, and its access and processing capabilities become the focus of its use. The device and its OS provision a reliable and consistent platform for apps and access to organizational information.

Familiarity for end users and IT staff alike reduces support costs and the risks involved with changes of any kind. End users see less motivation to upgrade to a new device that is likely only a marginal improvement on what they already have. As a result there is less disruption, lower capital costs and reduced BYOD expenses. It also lowers the technological risks that might affect IT operations, especially security. Users can spend less time learning new features and dealing with unnecessary changes that might not add much value.

Of course, given the dual consumer/work nature of contemporary mobile devices, some users may want to upgrade just to make their favorite games run faster. In that case, a company's BYOD policy must specify a restricted set of device and OS pairs and deploy the appropriate enterprise mobility management tools. The bottom line, though, is that a boring mobile handset market reduces risks and costs, so it isn't a bad thing.

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