By Claire West

Smartphone wars have commenced with the announcement that the BlackBerry Torch 9800 will go on sale tomorrow - with the Windows Phone 7 and the Nokia N8 to be released in the UK shortly. All three phones are designed to eat into the dominance of Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platform, as part of a fierce battle to gain market share in the highly lucrative hand-held devices market. Whilst in the consumer space hand-held devices are becoming commoditised, in the business sector there is still money to be made with all the key players jostling for position by preparing to introduce new features all aimed at luring people away from Apple and Android devices.

Smartphones empowering remote working

The Windows Phone 7 which will allow users to edit SharePoint (Microsoft’s web portal technology) documents on the move is an attractive feature for people who need access to documents whilst they work on the go. However most of the new features of this phone are around consumer multi-media capabilities and consumer software applications linking the phone with Microsoft Live, Microsoft’s consumer web platform.

Following the recent CEO change, Nokia is widely being viewed as a rising star in the market with its aggressive pricing which many experts believe will deliver considerable market share. The new Nokia N8 due out shortly is powered by the new Symbian 3 software and has the Unified Communications software pre-installed which is a boon for businesses wanting to use Microsoft’s Unified Communications Technology. It also has improved multi-tasking (another business feature) however many of the new capabilities are targeted at the consumer such as improved graphics, multi-point touch and multiple home screens. The BlackBerry Torch 9800 runs the new OS 6 and again has many improved consumer features such as an improved 5MP camera and integrated social networking and although it features a slide out QWERTY keyboard, the touch screen interface features heavily.

Nevertheless, these phones are able to compete with Apple on a large market scale, Mark Seemann, CTO for Outsourcery said,

“From a business perspective, both Microsoft and Nokia have been historically strong but their market shares have weakened lately. RIM’s BlackBerry devices have seen continued success within the business market and with the imminent launch of the BlackBerry Torch its success could continue into the next year.”

Smartphones are not the only market that RIM is looking to compete in, with the announcement of the launch of their tablet device (Playbook) at the 2010 BlackBerry Developer Conference this week (27-30 September). Like its rival, Apple, BlackBerry is determined to ride on the back of the wave.

Seemann added, “The key driver for smartphones is the growing demand for people wanting to work remotely and it is this flexibility that has fuelled the growth in sales of Apple’s iPad which is effectively a Hybrid PC/smartphone. BlackBerry is determined to capitalise on this market with its imminent launch of its own ‘Playbook.”