In this interesting article from Silicon.com, Jørgen Behrens, VP of product management and strategy at Symbian, says:
"Out of all the push email solutions on a mobile OS, Microsoft is the worst of any. The only thing Microsoft have got going for them is the familiarity and the Microsoft look and feel."
Interesting comment and, if viewed from a proprietary implementation perspective, possibly true. But isn't he missing the point? Push email is a function of the standards used by the mail server and the client's ability to mesh with those standards.
Mr. Behrens seems to be thinking of a world where enterprise system administrators roll out mobile phones to the workforce, dictating phone model and contract. A vast majority of companies of course do nothing of the sort. Everybody already has a mobile phone and it makes much more sense, if the phone supports the functions the enterprise is trying to enable, to take advantage of existing hardware and connections.
In this real world the only thing the system administrator worries about is the ability of the phone client to support the standard the server is using and the "look and feel", crucial to encouraging actual use.
As mobile phone operating systems (Symbian and Windows Mobile OS included) impose no restrictions on the user's (or enterprise system administrator's) ability to load compatible third-party software onto the phone or on their ability to fetch email from diverse mailservers, the operating system the phone is using is a factor only insofar as it dictates the range of email clients available.
And in a world where Open Standards always end up dominating (I'm thinking in this case of course of the IETF's emerging LEMONADE standards for efficient mobile email, IMAP extensions) and the authors of third-party clients across all platforms write to those standards, the operating system becomes less and less important. Users don't buy operating systems, they buy phone features and application availability.
There is however still one way, I think, for an operating system to gain a decisive lock on the enterprise mobile email market and that is to ship a decent client with the phone, one that supports the relevant (open) standards and is a pleasure to use. At the moment none of them seem interested in doing that.