Companies will not have to worry about a large-scale virus outbreak targeting their "smart" cell phones for another 18 months, security experts predicted.

However, after that, even antivirus software is unlikely to help, Gartner analysts John Pescatore and John Girard wrote in a research paper published earlier this month. The paper looks at how enterprises should prepare for the growing threat from malicious software for mobile phones and PDAs. According to the authors, a fast-spreading phone virus or worm is unlikely to appear before the end of 2007.

"Despite this intense vendor- and media-driven speculation--and several well-publicized hoaxes--the necessary conditions required for viruses or worms to pose a real rapidly spreading threat to more than 30 percent of enterprise mobile devices will not converge until year-end 2007," Pescatore and Girard said.