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There’s been more than a little news on the mobility front this week, and frankly it’s all over the lot. Interestingly, most of it is coming not from the market leaders, but from the “challengers.” However, it touches smartphones, tablets, and operating systems and is clearly a set-up for the iPhone 5 launch in September and the all-important Christmas buying season. It’s not that we expect the enterprise buyers are running out for “stocking stuffers,” but with the growth of BYOD, we will probably be seeing a lot of these in January!
Motorola Mobility kicked things off by launching three new handsets, its first since being acquired by Google for $12.5 billion back in May. Resurrecting the fabled Razr band name, the three are called the Droid Razr HD, the Droid Razr MAXX HD, and the Droid Razr M. Importantly, all three run the latest Android OS, version 4.1 or “Jelly Bean,” which does feature on-device encryption and enhanced mobile device management (MDM) capabilities that were lacking in the earlier Android implementations (i.e. pre-3.0).
According to Google, as of September 4, those earlier unencryptable versions represent about 75% of the Android devices in use, though the percentage of encryptable version 4.0 (i.e. “Ice Cream Sandwich”) devices has grown to 20%. In truth, enterprises can enforce encryption on the earlier models but that requires third-party solutions like those from Good Technologies or 3LM; few enterprise customers pursue that option. Having more options for enterprise-capable Android handsets is good news, but Motorola still has some catching up to do. Market researcher comScore puts Motorola’s share of the US smartphone market at 11.7%, versus 25.5% for Samsung and 18.8% for LG.
On the Windows Phone front, Nokia announced its first Windows Phone 8 devices, the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 smartphones. The 920 comes with an eight-megapixel camera featuring a Carl Zeiss lens, image stabilization, NFC capability, and a wireless charger, all of which has absolutely no value for enterprise buyers. Of course the market values consumer purchases far more than enterprise, and in what cannot be seen as a positive sign, the company’s shares dropped 10% that afternoon.
Nokia’s success with Windows Phone-based devices will be important to Microsoft’s hopes of staking a claim in the mobile market, but it is critical for Nokia. Some 18 months ago Nokia CEO Stephen Elop decided to drop the company’s own Symbian operating system in favor of Windows Phone, though the company is still selling more Symbian devices; they expect that to reverse this year. In the meantime, the company needs to reverse its downward spiral. For the second quarter 2012, Nokia booked a loss of 826 million Euros on sales of 7.542 billion Euros. Smart phone sales fell 34% from 2.351 Euros to 1,541 Euros from the same quarter last year, and basic phone sales dropped 11% from 2.568 billion to 2.291 billion Euros. Some are predicting major gains for the Windows Phone platform, though it’s hard to find convincing evidence to support that.
There is one important aspect to the announcement for enterprise users that has gone largely unnoticed. While the initial releases of the Windows Phone OS (up to and including version 7.5 or “Mango”) did not include on-device encryption or hooks to support mobile device management (MDM) systems, that changed with Windows Phone 8. The new release features on-device encryption, support for internal corporate app distribution (i.e. "side-loading"), and a secure boot feature making it more difficult to sneak malware onto the device. They have also included some level of support for MDM systems, but the extend of that support is still unclear.
With Windows Phone Microsoft has also taken a number of steps to better control of application security. Where app distribution in the the earlier Windows Mobile (now called “Windows Embedded Handheld”) was a haphazard process with Windows Phone, Microsoft will vet applications and control distribution in a more Apple-like fashion. All of this should add up to a better overall security profile for enterprise users.
On the tablet front, Amazon announced the second generation of the Kindle Fire. Like its predecessor, the new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD will cost $199, and an 8.9-inch version will cost $299. The company also announced a model with 4G LTE wireless capability that will cost $499 along with a $49.99-per-year data plan. In the meantime, Apple continues to dominate the tablet segment with an estimated 68% market share.
In late August Samsung, the largest supplier of Android tablets, introduced the Windows-based Series 7 tablet. Featuring an 11.6-inch screen, stylus and available qwerty keyboard, the Intel CoreTM-based Series 7 pits Samsung against Acer, Dell, HP, and eventually the Microsoft Surface Pro in the Windows tablet market. Windows tablets are an interesting combination that can provide the engaging touch screen interface users love with tablets, but can also function as a full Windows laptop. Many power-users have given up on tablets for anything other than web surfing or media consumption. We’ll have to see how this category develops and whether its success comes at the expense of tablets or laptops.
Finally, Hewlett-Packard released two beta versions of its webOS mobile operating system, one runs on the Ubuntu Linux desktop, and one for the "OpenEmbedded" development environment. HP acquired webOS when it bought Palm in April 2010, but then announced it was discontinuing development of webOS device in August the following year. HP had indicated its intention to release webOS to the development community when it exited the business, but we’ll have to see if anything significant comes of it.
Of course, a lot of this activity has to do with making a splash ahead of Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 5 (expected on September 12) that will likely “suck all of the air out of the room.” The rumor mill is spinning full tilt and with a spate of hardware leaks, there seems to be more consensus on what’s coming this time around. The new model will almost certainly support LTE, though there are concerns about its impact on battery life – never Apple’s strong suit. FaceTime should now operate over cellular as well as Wi-Fi services, though the operators will likely be charging a premium for it. There’s also a new connector planned, so we can throw out all of our older chargers. The bets are evenly split on whether we’ll see NFC support, and Apple will almost certainly introduce a 7-inch version of the iPad.
For solutions integrators (Sis) all of this holds significant opportunities. Users are being barraged with new mobile options and it’s coming from all directions. With the advent of BYOD, IT departments can wind up supporting all of these whether they like it or not. Clearly the importance of mobility is growing, and Sis need to be developing the expertise in this area and expanding their product lines to help their customers succeed in this challenging environment. This is a train you don’t want to miss.
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Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes.
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