It used to be simple to recommend the most appropriate mobile phones to law firms: BlackBerry combined with a BlackBerry Enterprise Server offered the most effective and secure solution, albeit with a price tag. BlackBerry dominated the corporate world because it offered an effortless email experience combined with simple messaging, all within a secure environment. However, times have changed, and competition has resulted in some serious contenders.
General Market Overview
The general market overview can tell us a lot about what mobile phone platform is performing well for U.S. consumers. This market requires the similar features in a phone that lawyers demand, with perhaps the exception of superior security. The current market trends display an undeniable trend towards using Google (Android) and Apple:
Compare the above with the two year old data below. RIM (BlackBerry) has been completely overtaken by both Google and Apple and lost half of it's market share and former dominance:
The Issue with Google's Android Platform
Although the above data may appear to show Google dominating the current market, what it fails to properly convey is the multiple versions of Android currently live within the marketplace. Whereas iPhone users can be assured they're running the same up-to-date version of their operating system as everyone else, Google allows their phone partners to dictate when their phones are updated. This has resulted in a fractionalized marketplace that has serious implications.
If and when your Android phone is updated, the support will be more limited than Apple, your current applications may not work, and your security may be comprised as a result. It's arguably easier for developers to build applications for Apple products because they only have to design one version of the program.
Application Store Comparisons
The Apple App Store goes the extra mile by vetting each app that becomes available to the public. Many must-have applications are only available on iPhone, such as certain banking apps. However, the Google Marketplace is growing quickly, and developers are beginning to take notice of this trend and capitalize on the many users. In the modern marketplace, you may find that every application you need is available for both Android and Apple without issue.
BlackBerry on the other hand, is woefully deficient in the number of quality applications it provides. Apps come last to Blackberry, if ever, and lack the support and attention of the other platforms.
Overall Usage Impressions
A recent JD Power & Associates wireless handset customer satisfaction survey shows iPhone users are the most satisfied with their phone:
"For a sixth consecutive time, Apple ranks highest among manufacturers of smartphones in customer satisfaction. Apple achieves a score of 838 and performs well in all factors, particularly in ease of operation and features. HTC (801) follows Apple in the smartphone rankings."
Security is Paramount
Within the law firm environment, the security of client files and correspondence is a requirement above all others. Failure to properly secure data can result in sanctions, and potentially a loss of license. There are several ways to ensure your mobile phone is secure enough for your practice:
- Login password
- Encrypted data transfers
- Ability to erase/wipe memory remotely
Every major platform gives users the ability to create login passwords, and remotely wipe data. This can either be done through the integrated security software, or third-party applications such as McAfee's iPhone security app.
Apple has experienced some security issues that should give attorneys pause. Twice in two years a bug was discovered that allowed cyber attackers the ability to compromise data while users read PDF files (Source). Even more egregious, it's been established that Apple intentionally hid a file on iPhones that tracked the physical movements of every user (Source).
Tips to Securely Use Your Smartphone
1) Keep it updated - Your phone may do this automatically, or you may have to click into the settings and do this yourself. Either way, be sure to always run the latest version or build for your platform.
2) Run a security application - There are several applications available that provide the option of deleting your phone's content if it's ever stolen or lost. The applications available are unique to your platform.
3) Review application usage settings - Whenever you download an application, it will ask you to accept the terms & conditions. Sometimes, these terms permit the transfer of your usage data, and can significantly compromise the security of your data. Download applications from trusted sources, and never agree to terms that may allow others the ability to see the information you need to keep secure.
4) Avoid public Wi-Fi networks - Running any device on an unencrypted, unsecured public Wi-Fi network is like leaving your front door unlocked and open. Avoid these entirely.
Chris Blankinship, Esq. is the Marketing Manager for LawInfo, Inc. and has been with the company since July 2010. Chris is a California licensed attorney based in San Diego.Education:
- BA in Political Science from UCLA
- JD from California Western School of Law
- MBA from San Diego State University
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