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Carriers offer products to help businesses adapt to workers' smartphones

Offerings include application-related services and integration to back-end phone systems

The nation's leading wireless carriers are making more products and services available to businesses to integrate and support their workers using wireless smartphones and tablets.

Verizon Wireless made two announcements Monday, while AT&T made a separate announcement of a service called Toggle , that allows enterprise apps to run on any Android phone a user chooses. Separately, Verizon announced the Private Applications Store for Business that allows companies to run in-house or third-party apps on any smartphone or tablet on any network. It will be offered later this year, with pricing set on a per-user/per-month basis, although Verizon didn't specify how much.

Also, Verizon introduced its Mobile Unified Communications Client to connect Android smartphones over the Verizon network with a business' existing telephone system. That means Android smartphone users can place calls on the device from their work number, even while out of the office, with the calls routed through the company's IP PBX system. The advantage is lower costs on international calls and intra-company calls.

Verizon created a docking station, sold separately, to connect phones running the Android mobile operating system and using the UC Client to a company's Ethernet. The UC client is now available for $7 a month per user, while the docking station costs $125.

The UC Client supports the Droid X, Droid X2, Droid 2, Droid 2 Global and Droid Pro, all Android phones from Motorola. Others devices will follow.

The UC Client works with IP PBX software from leading makers, including Cisco Unified Communications 6.1.4 and above and Avaya Communications Manager 5.2 and above.

Carriers are offering these services and products because of a major transition to Android and iPhone mobile devices over BlackBerry phones from Research in Motion, which relies on an added security layer with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Forrester, in a recent survey, found that more workers are using iPhones and Android-based smartphones than BlackBerries, and that nearly half of workers are using smartphones that they chose, not devices recommended by their IT departments. Even if an IT shop requires a certain phone, workers will still bring in a second of their choosing to do work-related tasks, Forrester found.

The "bring your own phone" trend leaves room for services and products from the carriers to help companies adapt to the changes, analysts said.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

Read more about mobile apps and services in Computerworld's Mobile Apps and Services Topic Center.


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