To say the DROID’s release is highly anticipated would be an understatement. Marketing has gone into overdrive for this handset, making us wonder why there’s no big love for the Eris (yes, they’ll appeal to different users — and the Eris is running Android 1.5, at least for now, but the Eris looks just as capable for anyone who prefers the Sense UI versus the DROID’s Android 2.0 interface). So Verizon customers looking to finally wield a smartphone that won’t shame them when they’re out and about with their iPhone-toting friends have tomorrow marked and ready. Heck, even the impatient could have pre-ordered it already from Best Buy (and, if you really, REALLY, want a DROID but just don’t feel like hoofing it over to your local Verizon store in the morning you can order one straight from Wirefly beginning at midnight tonight).
But what about the corporate user? Should you (and your IT department) be putting the DROID on your company network? Sure, Android 2.0 now natively supports MS Exchange. Oh, but before you run out to pick up your very own DROID, and then expect to be using it for work you may want to take note of a few things. Unfortunately, everything is not puppy dogs, fluffy clouds and rainbows…
OK, so we all remember that Gartner forecast piece regarding Android. No? Well, Larry’s report is right here — and to sum it up Gartner’s report expects Android to overtake iPhone as the #2 smartphone platform by 2012 (right behind Symbian, which is still the current numero uno platform — especially in Europe, if not here in the U.S.). Just looking at 2009 wrapping up, and you can see where Gartner is coming from. There are a slew of Android handsets coming out, and more should certainly be expected. As Android has matured with the 2.0 software, a lot of businesses are now looking at Google’s smartphone operating system and considering it a viable option for employees. If you’re going to untether your workforce, you better give them (or let them purchase and put it on your corporate network, if that’s your cup of tea) the best smartphone options. There’s just one teeny tiny little issue — at least with the current version of Android 2.0. Yes, it certainly does have native Exchange sync. No, the feature is not without its problems.
Conducting one of the ‘nets most thorough analysis of the DROID, BoyGeniusReport found a flaw with the Exchange implementation on Android 2.0 (so, yes, this issue could certainly affect the Eris and any other device that may eventually run Android 2.0 if you try to use it on your corporate Exchange account). The problem? BGR found that when the phone was configured to fetch the last day’s emails via Exchange and ActiveSync, the device would actually pull the last three days’ of email. General configuration settings and even deleting/re-adding the account did not resolve the issue. By all accounts, the unit BGR used at length (about a month) was the final production-ready build.
OK. So, what does this mean to you? First, if you don’t use your smartphone on your company’s network or use it to read/reply to your company email you have nothing to worry about. If you do not use MS Exchange for your mail, then you are golden. Enjoy your DROID and Gmail (or whatever non-Gmail email you may use). Not to be all “stuffy” but this issue will simply impact those business users who do rely on smartphones.
So, brass tax — should this problem prohibit anyone from knocking down the doors at their Verizon store tomorrow? Not at all. Just realize that if you are a business user and your expectation is that you will be able to use the DROID for business email on MS Exchange, that you will very likely run into this problem. It’s not your Exchange servers, and your IT department can save a few hours of lengthy troubleshooting by knowing that this issue seems specific to the current Android 2.0 load. Knowing this, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and phone calls to your IT department/Exchange support.
The good news? Given the spotlight that the DROID and Android 2.0 have shined on them — and the high expectation that the device be a hit for Big Red (not to mention Motorola and Google), you can bet a quick software/OS update should fix this issue. So go ahead and get that DROID if you want it. Just give your IT department a breather and hang tight for a hopeful update from Google that plays nice(er) with Exchange.