The Enterprise Will Save Windows Phone

While consumers have largely ignored Windows Phone, it's likely that enterprise adoption of Windows-powered phones will save the troubled platform.

If you blinked then you might have missed it. Lost somewhere between the debut of Windows 8 and the arrival Hurricane Sandy was Microsoft’s release of its Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system. If you did miss it, I don’t blame you. To call adoption of Windows Phone anemic would be an insult to all the hard working hemoglobin out there. In 2012, Windows Phone had a global marketshare of 2.4%, which is still less than the 6.8% marketshare of Nokia’s Symbian platform (Symbian? What’s that? Exactly!) Given the huge leads Android and iOS have built up in mobile marketshare, the uphill battle Windows Phone faces reminds me of the movie Rudy.

Picard to Ballmer: “We’re on our way…”

Still beats using a Blackberry.

Meet the finest example of irony this side of Alanis Morissette: the “Good” app.

However, like ole Rudy, all is not lost. While consumers might ignore Windows Phone, its savior might come from corporate IT adoption of the platform.  Microsoft, unlike Apple and Google, is firmly entrenched within the world of IT software. From Exchange Server (~65% marketshare), to Active Directory (used in 90% of the Fortune 500) , Microsoft software enables IT departments to manage their Windows-based desktop environments.  The major change introduced in Windows Phone 8 is that it now uses the same kernel that powers Windows desktop machines, which enables these phones to benefit from many of the features that allow IT departments to manage Windows desktop machines. For you, me and most consumers this means very little. But for corporate IT folks,  the ability for Windows Phone 8 devices to plug into existing Windows-based IT environments and be centrally managed is nothing short of a wet dream.

One of the fanciest new acronyms in mobile tech is “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device). In the post-PC era,  people want to be able to take their iPhone or iPad to work and use them. In highly-regulated industries like finance and health care, the mere thought of an employee storing customer documents and other data on their own iPad induces a level of paranoia in CIOs not seen since the heady days of Y2K. Windows Phone 8 devices come with full hardware encryption , they can be managed with Microsoft’s Windows inTune Management Suite , and can even download enterprise apps from IT managed app stores !

IT departments can distribute apps to Windows Phone 8 devices through their very own appstores, or “Company Hubs” as Redmond puts it.

Friends, there is a war raging in offices across the world between employees that want to use their Google or Apple powered smartphone and risk-adverse IT departments that don’t want unmanaged, unsecured devices accessing their network. Some companies take a hardline and force employees to carry a Blackberry at all times, while others have embraced apps like ” Good for Enterprise ” that bring basic encryption and remote management to iPhone and Androids. “Good for Enterprise” might be good for the folks in IT, but it’s quite possibly the most painful thing to use since Windows Vista. Yet “Good for Enterprise” continued success despite it being nothing short of a turgid mess illustrates the quandary faced by corporate IT and the opportunity for Microsoft.

RIM’s days are numbered, but Microsoft isn’t going anywhere, especially in the enterprise. It’s likely that as Blackberry fizzles out,  companies will turn to Windows Phone 8 devices as their smartphone of choice. So while consumers might not flock to Microsoft stores to snag a Nokia Lumia, expect Windows Phone marketshare to grow over the next few years driven largely by corporate IT adoption. Windows Phone might not be an alluring platform for app entrepreneurs right now, but for those of you with ideas for apps targeted towards knowledge workers and corporations, you should be taking a very serious look at the Windows Phone 8 platform.

About Bobby Gill

I am the creator of Bahndr, founder of New York based app development lab, Blue Label Labs and editor at Idea to Appster. I like crepes and I am fascinated by big data.

  • stefyc

    Absolutely. Microsoft’s competitive advantage is its footprint in the enterprise. BYOD encourages enterprises to think harder about which mobile device manage (MDM) software to use. While providers such as AirWatch and MobileIron offer wide support for various platforms and rich functionalities, you would still find many enterprises are using the good old Exchange ActiveSync as a quasi MDM. The reason is quite simple: employees use mobile phones mainly to check their e-mails running on Exchange servers. However, as enterprises invest more in enabling the mobile workforce and porting line-of-business applications to various mobile platforms, they will begin to look elsewhere.

    • omgbobbyg

      Good points, I imagine the use of Exchange is a big driver for the sale of System Center and InTune for the same enterprises.

  • Bart

    Oh Yeah!!I just can´t wait for the Black Berry Jam in Amsterdam!!! Windows Phone will definetly mix it up in the upcoming year but Android and iOS won´t be just standing by and watching eventhough WP had a slow motion start when compared to the other platforms I am keeping my fingers crossed and hope to see their market share booming.