This Week’s Technology and Your Business – Episode 3

The confusing world of mobile technology

So Nokia (which recently hired a Microsoft executive) is going to work with Microsoft and have Windows Phone 7 installed on a variety of new Nokia devices. AT&T which had a lock on iPhone, is now competing with Verizon Wireless to sell iPhones. Google’s Android is enjoying brisk sales thanks to great designs from a variety of vendors includeing HTC, Motorolla and thers. RIM is not sitting still but continues to launch a variety of BlackBerry devices, including tablets. And on top of all of that faster wireless options – from 3G to 4G are emerging.

All of this can be quite confusing. But what does it all really mean for your business? It means that in the future you can expect better phones, at hopefully cheaper prices and with faster connectivity.

As you look to purchase mobile technology for your business focus on these three things:

1. Which wirelessly provider is best for my business – AT&T? Sprint? Verizon Wireless? Or other carriers. Consider breadth and strength of their network? Customer support? and Price?

2. What operating system has the strongest base of developers creating applications (not just games) and tools for my phone and which operating system will give my business the most innovation and flexibility.

3. Which phone form factor and design am I most comfortable with. Do I prefer a physical keyboard? Do I need two cameras.

Mobile Commerce

For years there have been ways for businesses to sell through mobile devices. But thanks to the emergence of smartphones and better technology there’s more, easier and cheaper ways for anyone, especially small businesses to accept a credit card and charge someone. Whether you’re in a park, in the mall, wherever.

Services such as Square, Paypal and Intuit mobile payments let you accept credit cards and process transactions on your mobile phone. If you want to swipe a credit card Square and Intuit will even send you a free credit card reader. Expect to pay a 15 cent transaction fee and percentage of each transaction.

Other solutions such as Bling nation, which are available now, but not YET in wide spread use enable payments wherein your phone stores money. These services include

Refresh Your Telephone System

I know many of you are very small businesses and don’t have “traditional” telephone systems. Your cell phone is just fine for you and your small, remote team. But I also know that many of you have offices and your 10 or 20 employees do have phones on their desks. This segment is for you.

If you still have a traditional PBX (private branch exchange) phone system, it’s time to consider getting rid of it. I was speaking to Ring Central a few days ago and they told me that those of you with traditional PBXs are simply paying too much for your phone systems and from what I saw, you’re missing out on the full range of features that an online PBX can provide.

Imagine being able to hire 3 new employees and provide them with new telephone numbers and phone options from your phone. Instead of calling a phone technician every time you want to make changes, you can save money and make the changes yourself.

If that humming sound in your classic is an old phone system, get rid of it and look at options for a phone system that you don’t have to maintain – Ring Central, M5, Cbeyond, 8×8 and others can help.

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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

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