Tectonictech

Tectonictech

Ken Blakeslee

Ken Blakeslee, chairman of WebMobility Ventures

We’ve all heard of smartphones and tablets, Android and Windows 8 and iOS, but what is the latest and greatest, which companies and which operating systems are dominating this market, and who are the up and coming ones to watch? Heather McLean takes a look.

The top smartphone and tablet operating systems (OSs) are the new handset manufacturers. Gone are the days when an end user only opted for a device because of who made it; today, loyalty lies with the OS and its app ecosystem.

The name still on everyone’s lips is Apple. Its iOS platform is tied to Apple products, but according to Ken Blakeslee, mobile futurist and chairman of WebMobility Ventures, it’s all good. “In spite of iOS being called a ‘closed’ environment, it has opened new horizons for developers and led the way. Each new iOS device seems to also introduce developers to new sensors, applications linked accessories, cloud-based services and selling and delivery ecosystems that will keep it in the lead in 2012 from an applications usage standpoint.”

 

A report from Arieso looking at usage patterns found that the escalation in smart device sophistication is driving up the consumption of mobile data to dramatic new levels, notes Blakeslee. The report says that iPhone4S users demand twice as much data as iPhone4 users, and three times that of a 3GS user.

Taylor agrees that from a business point of view, iOS not only provides strong security features, but can also be managed by third parties. “iOS allows IT managers to wirelessly configure and update customer settings, monitor compliance with corporate policies and even wipe or lock lost or stolen managed devices,” he explains. “All of these features are important for customers whose employees use iOS devices to work flexibly and who need to be assured that company data will remain secure even if the device is lost, stolen or tampered with.”

While research firm, Gartner, forecasts that Apple will top media tablet sales for some time to come. Milanesi says: “We expect Apple to maintain a leading portion of the tablet marketshare over the forecast period, holding over 50% of the market until 2013. Apple has created a strong following around its products and ecosystem attached to them. This is because it has created and enabled a superior and unified user experience with its hardware, software and services. Unless competitors can respond with a similar approach, challenges to Apple position will be minimal.”

 

ANDROID ATTACK

However, Taylor says that Android has appeal for the mass market business community: “Android, with its dynamic pricing, has taken the smartphone to the mass market. Businesses can choose from low cost ‘basic’ smartphones, all the way up to top of the range exclusive devices with the latest technologies. If a business customer is looking for a wide device range, Android is often the first port of call.”

Blakeslee adds: “Android will no doubt beget an important portfolio of devices and end to end propositions in 2012, and a review mid year will help to determine if Android is going to be the OS of the year in 2013. I suspect it will be.”

Google’s Android remains the strongest potential competitor in the tablet market, agrees Milanesi. “We expect Android will close the gap in share with Apple by 2015. Much of this will be possible because a good part of Android sales will also come from availability of improved low cost tablets. Google Android can count on strong support from key OEMs, a sizeable developer community and its overall application ecosystem remains the strongest beyond Apple.

“We project Android to maintain a share of the smartphone market at around 50% until 2015,” adds Milanesi. “So far Android appeal has been constrained by high prices, weak UI and limited tablet applications. Google is addressing current Android fragmentation across smartphone and tablet form factors with the latest Android release, Ice Cream Sandwich.”

 

INVISIBLE ENABLERS

“The most important elements of personal mobility, the facilities of a mobile device and the operating system running on it, have thankfully become the all important but invisible enablers of higher order value propositions for consumers and business users alike,” says Ken Blakeslee, chairman of WebMobility Ventures and mobile futurist and guru.

“This, to me, is the most pleasing aspect of what has developed over the last few years and bedded in nicely in 2011. This will also be the foundation of more consistent usage by business users. It will also force the enterprise to look at this seriously to deal with the security and reliability issues.

“Basically, in my humble opinion, people no longer want to chose between competing OS’s and spend their time twisting and twiddling an OS to try to make it do the things they want. They want to buy a basic, simple to use device with all the capability and UI enablers, and then turn it into the Hitchhikers Guide to their very own Galaxy. Douglas Adams would have been very pleased to have seen his thirty year old concept device now a reality and in the pockets and kit bags of just about everyone on earth!

“2011 was a game changing year, and because of that 2012 will be the year of the consumer. From what I can see, it is the consumer that is leading several businesses and whole industries into a brave new world of opportunity. Amazingly it is the consumer device, not purpose built industrial ones, that are the key ingredient to business advances and exploitation of mobility,” Blakeslee concludes.

 

OUTSIDE BETS

Taylor likes the look of Microsoft’s baby as well: “Windows 8 brings the familiarity of Microsoft Office to the mobile device, including Outlook Mobile, Word Mobile, Excel Mobile and PowerPoint Mobile. The advantage for users who work on Windows computers in the office is that they will see a great deal of similarity from their PC screen to their mobile screen, aiding familiarity and so, for some, productivity.

Gartner expects more competitors to arrive in 2012, with one of those being Microsoft. “We expect Microsoft to bring to market a tabletspecific version of Windows 8 in 2012, but its late arrival will limit its appeal above all to consumers. Apple and Android will be by then more entrenched with users in their ecosystems.”

“Business customers should also keep an eye out for the latest developments following the Microsoft and Nokia deal. The wide-screen handsets and user friendly interface have been received well, and we are looking forward to seeing what the partnership will bring in the future,” Taylor notes.

Against the success of Apple and its iOS, RIM is suffering contrast, says Taylor. He remarks that while RIM has been the leader in the enterprise phone market for years, its stronghold is increasingly being challenged by iOS and Android. Yet he adds: “RIM’s business-controlled environment gives IT managers complete control over features and integrates well with Microsoft Exchange. In addition, secure integration with enterprise email and policy enforcement are two of RIM’s major strengths, which we know our business customers value.”

2011 saw the launch of BlackBerry 7, which built on BlackBerry’s established smartphone platform and app ecosystem. One interesting development for RIM was the introduction of two NFC handsets on BlackBerry 7, with the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and BlackBerry Curve 9360, the first SIM-based NFC smartphones to be certified by MasterCard Worldwide as PayPass-approved devices.

“But for BlackBerry NFC is much more than just payments,” comments Hodkinson. “BlackBerry users will be able to use their phones as tickets, electronic passes, coupons and more. BlackBerry Tag is a new feature for NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphones that allows users to tap their phones together to share contact information, documents, URLs, photos and other multimedia content. It will also enable friends to instantly add one another as BBM contacts simply by tapping their BlackBerry’s together.”

 

BUSINESS TRENDS

Smartphone usage has changed, remarks Hodkinson. “Employees are both bringing personal devices into work and expecting to use their work devices for some personal use. This trend raises challenges for IT departments in how to protect sensitive corporate information when staff use their smartphones and tablets for professional and personal use. Solutions such as BlackBerry Balance enable businesses to set policies to ensure corporate information stays safe on employee devices.”

Taylor states: “Security will remain the top concern for businesses bringing smart devices into the workplace. Businesses will begin to work more closely with their service providers to set up security parameters that work for them, using mobile device management technology to maintain control over business data being accessed via mobile devices.”

In 2012, it will continue to be important for companies to be able to control demands on their time and find effective ways to manage devices, applications and systems. As such, states Taylor, mobile device management (MDM) solutions will be a popular choice for IT managers seeking to control devices in their company by managing security updates, installing applications, protecting or wiping data and configuring phone settings, all done remotely so employees aren’t inconvenienced or responsible for any updates. “Devices that are easy to control remotely help IT managers immensely and therefore will be a popular choice for businesses in 2012,” Taylor claims.

Hodkinson agrees that multiplatform MDM will be a significant trend throughout 2012. “It was with this in mind that RIM launched BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, a multiplatform MDM solution that simplifies management of smartphones and tablets for IT departments with a single easy to use admin console for managing BlackBerry smartphones and tablets, as well as Android and iOS devices.”

Consumerisation and cloud are the two biggest trends that will shape the CIO strategy in 2012, claims Milanesi. She states: “Overall, we foresee that technologies, costs and budgets will become more fluid and distributed throughout organisations, reducing IT’s control. Specifically, our analysts say that by 2015, mobile application development projects targeting smartphones and tablets will outnumber native PC projects by a ratio of 4:1. By 2016, at least 50% of enterprise email users will rely primarily on a browser, tablet or mobile client instead of a desktop client.

“Also by 2016, 40% of enterprises will make proof of independent security testing a precondition for using any type of cloud service, while through 2016, the financial impact of cybercrime will grow 10% per year due to continuing discovery of new vulnerabilities. And at year end 2016, more than 50% of Global 1000 companies will have stored customer-sensitive data in the public cloud.”

The cloud continues to be a hot topic for 2012 as businesses expect to be able to access core business functions from anywhere, at any time, agrees Hodkinson. “In the past RIM extended its cloud architecture to deliver developer services, including push, payment, advertising and location services. More recently, the company launched new cloud services in the form of BlackBerry Business Cloud Services for Microsoft Office 365, and BlackBerry Management Center, a free, cloud-based MDM service for smaller businesses.”

 

LEADERS AND LAGGARDS

Chairman of WebMobility Ventures and mobile futurist, Ken Blakeslee, gives his views on the leaders and laggards in the operating system (OS) space:

Apple iOS – golden goose?

While others were still perfecting an OS as an end user interface, Apple brought us not just an OS but a device that quickly became a personal repository of applications, content, utilities and entertainment, and it built that from an ecosystem for rapid prototyping and commercial delivery of valuable user interfaces produced by hundreds of thousands of developers.

While the mobile phone industry geeks were addressing what they thought was important, Apple slid this one in and it has rapidly developed as an applications platform for hundreds of thousands of developers.

According to Canaccord Genuity, iPhone4S was the top selling phone in the US on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint for November of 2011. Apple iPad sales broke similar records. 2012 is the year of continued iOS moves into business applications. iPhones are in the majority on boardroom tables and iPads are creating new kinds of value in every business environment.

Android – mass market choice?

Android is what I call Chapter Two of the Applications Revolution and in 2012 will begin to overcome the fragmentation problem for developers. In their quest for differentiation, each device manufacturer using Android has concocted a different mix, which has produced a dilemma for app developers to either design to lowest common denominators to capture installed base, or target specific models to roll out top performance applications.

I think in 2012 this will settle down as the lowest common denominator becomes a higher spec overall, and also some vertical business applications can be restricted to specific phones.

Windows 8 – is it a good bet, or isn’t it?

Not a good bet in my honest opinion. Windows compatibility is not anywhere near as important anymore and was never that good anyway! I will certainly keep on my radar screen, but don’t see a huge developer base forming. In fact statistics show developers abandoning that platform for iOS and Android.

RIM – not going too well?

Blackberry has been a one trick pony that etched its dominance nicely by concentrating on email and QWERTifying the mobile phone. Touch has changed all that and larger screen sizes are now possible because real estate is available.

RIM’s server/cloud aspects were groundbreaking and satisfied enterprise check lists for security, etc, but have fallen behind and fallen down on occasion, which brings them into question. The game isn’t over for RIM though. Worth watching, but I wouldn’t be an investor right now.

Symbian – time for death?

The hopes of the past ten years were never really delivered. Fondly remembered, but RIP, Symbian.

 

2012 INNOVATION

Blakeslee attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year, and remarks: “Who would have imagined that 25% of doctors would admit to using their iPhone as a stethoscope? The microphone on the headset is good enough to analyse and listen to heartbeat! What I saw this year at CES was numerous accessory and application pairings to produce both business and consumer value in the areas of sensing and analysing for health, wellness, situation analysis and numerous new household tools, like a Bluetooth meat thermometer that lets you entertain your guests while monitoring the state of the main course in the oven.

“Also the little screen of the phone is getting bigger because of what I call the ‘Virtually Large, Actually Small’ family of devices; video eyewear and pico projectors that fit in your shirt pocket, but when plugged into your smart device impart large screen experiences for video watching, games, and all sorts of web and app-based experiences. These will be the expander of what people and businesses can do anywhere, anytime as we move forward,” continues Blakeslee.

He adds: “One thing I would say with great emphasis is that there is no lack of technology to achieve most of the business goals for 2012,” remarks Blakeslee. “What is needed is the knowledge and expertise of the business to be harvested and appear as end to end solutions. The bottom line is watch how consumer devices and accessories are used as the building blocks of more and more business applications. iClouds, MyClouds and Clouds made for business groupings will be the real connectivity that turns the advances at the edges into a corporate asset. This is a challenge, but not as big as people think. This is not about Cloud Computing, but rather Cloud Connectivity and sharing.

“To businesses, I say the world is your oyster in both connectivity and capability terms, and expertise rather than technology invention is the key to business advances. This is both in terms of internal processes and in reaching out to the customers who you seek to delight. A challenging year ahead, but with just rewards!” Blakeslee concludes.

 

HOT TECH Hot technologies making their way into smartphones and tablets that will be of benefit for business users as we move forward, include, according to Gartner’s Carolina Milanesi, vice president of consumer devices: HTML5; NFC; Location and Context; Bluetooth 4; 802.11ac; and LTE.

HTML5 – this is already available on the browsers of many new smartphones and tablets but will take several years to penetrate the installed base of devices. It will also likely evolve and mature for several years, and will benefit all organisations developing employee or consumer facing applications.

NFC – Gartner expects that by 2015 over 40% of all handsets shipped globally will include NFC. Through 2015 Gartner expects consumer apps to dominate NFC. Consumer-facing industries with onpremises customer interactions should explore NFC opportunities.

Location and Context – location determined by cellular networks, GPS or indoor Wi-Fi systems is already used for navigation and simple services such as location aware marketing. However Gartner expects the principles of context and the software infrastructure that supports it to evolve for a decade.

Bluetooth 4 – the first Bluetooth 4 devices started shipping in late 2011 and a few Bluetooth 4 peripherals are available, although Gartner thinks it will take two to three years before the majority of the handset installed base in mature markets supports the technology.

802.11ac – this is likely to be officially approved around 2013, although pre-standard equipment may become available before that date. 802.11ad is likely to become an official standard in 2012, and 802.11ah in 2013. Businesses will be able to replace more wired networks with wireless as Wi-Fi becomes more capable, and will likely need to increase their Wi-Fi capacity to support consumerisation and employee-owned IT, Gartner states.

LTE – major generations of cellular technology, such as LTE, take around a decade to penetrate the entire population, says Milanesi. Japan is likely to lead LTE deployments with North America and Western Europe having under 20% of subscribers using LTE by 2015. LTE handsets will be niche products for several years. Initially, LTE is likely to be most useful for corporate PC and tablet users needing high data rates and low latency, for example, for mobile web applications. However as it becomes more widely available and costs fall it will enable a new generation of high data rate cellular applications, including video and fixed broadband replacement and high performance M2M devices.