Hold on to your mobile devices: IDC predicts 20.9% growth in smartphone sales from 2009 through 2013. Symbian and Research In Motion (RIM) remain the market leaders, but you can be sure that competition will intensify with giants Microsoft, Google and Apple in the mix.

A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the release of Windows Mobile 7, officially named Windows Phone. The announcement, made at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, came soon after the debut of Apple’s iPad. Early hardware partners were announced, including Dell, Garmin-Asus, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and HP. While hesitant to give any specific dates, Microsoft says to expect Windows Phone handsets to hit the shelves “in time for the Holiday season of 2010.″

Business users will find the ”Office” particularly interesting: a center where users can access Office, Outlook, OneNote, and SharePoint Workspace on their mobile device. A feature called the “Marketplace” will also be useful, allowing you to easily find and download certified applications and games.

Meanwhile, news has been circulating recently on websites such as The Wall Street Journal, Mashable and VentureBeat about Google’s plans to sell third-party software for its Android mobile platform. While an app store for their smartphone OS has existed for some time, many have criticized it for not being business ready, with its lack of a more stringent review and vetting process for apps. However, all that’s expected to change with the launch of a new app store completely filtered for business-ready apps.

You can be sure that Symbian, through its sponsor Nokia, is not taking all of this sitting down. Soon, you’ll be able to download the popular VoIP product, Skype, for free from Nokia’s Ovi Store. The app will work over a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection – GPRS, EDGE, and 3G – and you’ll be able to call, instant message, text message, share photos and videos, receive alerts when your contacts are online, and import a phone’s address book.

Not to be left behind, RIM also made a recent announcement of its plans to develop a new browser for its Blackberry products. Many have felt that the company’s products has been outperformed by the competition in terms of its web capabilities and UI. With this announcement, it’s believed that the Blackberry will finally have support for websites with AJAX, CSS, and HTML5, although no mention of flash was made.

It’s truly exciting times for mobile device users. If you spend your day connected to customers, partners, and employees, you can see the value in these capabilities, with even more useful useful devices that really help you stay in touch and work on the go.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.