In the last few years, the smartphone market has shifted radically, thanks to the consumerization of IT. In my early days in the workforce, the idea of bringing our own hardware to work was unthinkable. That's mostly because we had better hardware at work than at home, but also because IT would never allow it.
Since then, things have shifted. Most people have newer, better PCs and phones at home than at work, and the BYOD trend has taken off. One reason BYOD was a success, as some friends have pointed out, is that it started on the C-level. When the CEO came to work with his new iPhone 3G and said he wanted to use that instead of his BlackBerry, well, who was going to argue with him?
This move, combined with Research in Motion making every wrong possible move it could make, has blown the smartphone market for business users wide open. RIM's death grip on the market has been shattered, giving Apple and Google an entre into the market.
Here's the problem: neither one has really good back-end support. There is no Android or iPhone equivalent of BlackBerry Enterprise Server or some of the other support systems, but then again, one analyst tells me BES is only in use among about 10 percent of enterprises these days, so its value is dwindling as well.
This positions Microsoft to capitalize on both the shortcomings of iPhone/Android and the demise of RIM (and let's not kid ourselves. That company is circling the drain). Windows Phone 7.5 was already a good phone but some of the features in Windows Phone 8 will make it that much better of an enterprise phone.
All in all, this is an impressive collection of features worth serious consideration by anyone whose BlackBerry contract is coming up. But as I said, the BYOD movement was driven by the top down. Will C-levels suddenly shift to Windows Phone 8? If they do, Microsoft will have pulled off a major hat trick.