Your smartphone or tablet is overrated. At least, that's the conclusion InfoWorld came to in assessing our scoring system for mobile devices. Much as changed since we developed our criteria and weightings four years ago. We saw an explosion of functionality for much of that period, so the average score climbed regularly -- until it was no longer average. And in the last year, there's been a real slowdown in mobile innovation, creating a plateau in our scores.
At the same time, there's been a major shift in the mobile ecosystem. Four years ago, security was a big differentiator, but it's less so today. The new mobile frontier for IT is management, where most platforms have little to offer. The major platforms have good browsers and a good basic set of applications available, so their differences have narrowed and their appropriate weight in our calculations has become too high.
Then there's been the explosion of services in each platform -- Apple's iCloud and Siri, or Google's Google Now and Maps, for example -- as mobile devices have moved from being stand-alone endpoints to part of a computing fabric in which mobile devices are one endpoint among many. Our old scoring system didn't anticipate the rise of platform services.
Because only in Lake Woebegone are average children above average, because there's been a pause in mobile innovation, and because there's a big shift toward a fabric of computing that transcends mobile devices, we've tossed our old scoring system for mobile devices and developed a new one that both resets the average and creates headroom for those areas where we foresee innovation making the most strides.
Below, you can see the new scores for the major smartphones and tablets now on the market. In the following pages, I explain the new categories and provide a basic comparison of the major platforms for each.
Apps and Web
Our previous scoring system had separate categories for Web and Internet support, business connectivity, and application support, totaling 55 percent of the score. That made sense when smartphones were new: At the time, apps and good browser experiences were the clear differentiators from the previous mobile generation best represented by the messaging-oriented BlackBerry. There was also a real question as to whether mobile devices could hope to be legitimate business devices, rather than merely personal ones.
Today, the distinction between the Web and apps is muddy, and all mobile platforms support the same basic capabilities. And there's no question that smartphones and tablets are real business aids. So, we've merged the Web and application support categories, as well as the portion of the business connectivity category related to apps (such as email, calendar, and contacts support), and reduced their combined weight to 20 percent of the score in what we now call the Apps and Web category.
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