Event Recap: AirWatch Connect

Connecting the Ecosystem

I had the opportunity to attend and present at AirWatch Connect event last week in Atlanta. The event attracted 1,500 of the company's customers and partners who were eager to learn more about AirWatch’s vision for long-term growth. The fact that the company was able draw nearly every big name enterprise-oriented mobility vendor to its event was impressive given that CTIA's marquee event (Super Mobility Week) was taking place at the same time.

Since its acquisition by VMware earlier this year, AirWatch has continued on a considerable growth path, with a roughly 50% uptick to its customer roster (from 7,000 to 13,000) and a strong pipeline heading into Q4. Based on this progress, the product enhancements that were shared, and discussions with AirWatch and VMware executives, it is clear that the company is successfully implementing ways in which to further engage with its tenured customers and expand their deployments beyond basic MDM to more sophisticated mobile offerings, such as its containerization and secure content locker solutions.

AirWatch CEO John Marshall's keynote set the stage for the company's executive vision, described as utilizing innovation within its mobility platform and solution portfolio to assist customers in solving business problems (tight integration with best-of-breed and complementary go-to-market partners is also a key strength for the company). AirWatch made several announcements to broaden its opportunity and move customers (both current and prospective) along on their mobile journeys.

Seamless Integration with an Expanded Roster of Partners

Details of the company's plan to partner with mobile app development vendors were revealed - the program (named AppShield) will help to ensure that mobile app development platform products will work seamlessly with AirWatch's MAM SDK and app wrapping tools. Partners announced included Adobe, Appcelerator, Kony, MicroStrategy, Oracle, salesforce.com, Sencha, Telerik and Xamarin. AirWatch also shared details of its next generation of email solutions (AirWatch Inbox) which features extended security capabilities and improved usability (key improvements include a one-click dial-in for conference calls, and an optimized experience for iPad users) the solution also now features S/MIME for secure and encrypted messaging.

AirWatch also showcased its solution for managing desktops (specifically Macs); the demonstration noticeably impressed the audience, as it made managing and provisioning a Mac for a new user look both seamless and intuitive. Finally, the company revealed a new solution for the education market with tools designed specifically for teachers such as All Eyes Up Front, which temporarily disables devices to draw attention to the front of the classroom - the solution also allows teachers to create virtual classes and lock students into specific apps to keep the focus on education and eliminate distractions from games, videos and social networking. To its credit, AirWatch began focusing on the education vertical early on - the strategy has clearly payed off, as the company has secured several of the largest educational institutions as customers (including the largest, the Los Angeles United School District).

Mobile Managed Services win

Finally, Marshall revealed that VMware had secured a strategic partnership with Capgemini ― this is notable for Airwatch as the company will integrate VMware’s end-user computing solutions (including AirWatch's EMM) with its mobility consulting, application development and system integration expertise. We expect AirWatch (through VMware) to continue to expand its relationships with companies like Capgemini moving forward (coincidentally, HP was very visible and a major sponsor at Connect).

Marshall also described two new capabilities which VDC sees as key for its customer base moving forward - AirWatch Chat and AirWatch Video. Chat will bring customers the ability to communicate instantly and securely while ensuring that company information remains secure. Chat will be an attractive and complementary solution for AirWatch's customers in regulated industries. Similarly, AirWatch Video will give users the ability to share and view videos and will provide customers with a more effective way to push videos to their employees (training immediately comes to mind). Administrators can manage permission content and set expiration dates for videos, while employees can download videos for offline viewing. We expect both of these solutions to be integrated into the company's mobile workspace solution as well as integrate will with Secure Content Locker.

Entering the "Post PC Era"

I delivered a keynote on the Post PC Era, which proved timely and apropos given the attendee profile at Connect. I led off by asking the audience to raise their hands if they were frustrated with the pace of mobile enablement at their company (mind you that most of the companies represented at this event were very likely to be well along on their mobile journey)  and more than half of the room had their hands raised. While not surprising, it nevertheless speaks to the large opportunity ahead for companies like AirWatch and in the enterprise mobility ecosystem in general. While key AirWatch customers such as CSX, Pepsi, Stryker, Target, and United Airlines shared details of the evolution and expansion of their mobile initiatives, the wide majority of businesses we speak with still have a quite a ways to go particularly regarding mobilizing their backends and developing customer mobile applications for their workforce. With its new host of partners and solution refinement that were laid out at Connect, has made the case that it is prepared to help organizations in the post-PC era.


Apple advances but doesn't revolutionize mobile payments, wearables

Yesterday saw the announcement of both the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch in Cupertino with considerable fanfare (and technical streaming issues).  Moving further away from Jobs’ dictate of a smaller screen, Apple has taken its cue from Samsung and the general smartphone market by offering both a 4.7” and 5.5” – marking its first foray into the phablet range. A relative late entrant to the market, the iPhone 6 will likely nevertheless help to recapture some of the market share that it has previously lost to Android which now accounts for more than 80% of the total smartphone market worldwide versus Apple’s 12%. While Apple’s market share is considerably higher in the US, it has slipped considerably in recent years as previous iPhone iterations have become increasingly incremental.

Boosting mobile payments

While the iPhone 6 boasts a host of improvements in display, battery life and thinness, the biggest enterprise news is in the inclusion of NFC and the introduction of Apple Pay.  Although NFC is not new technology, it has yet to gain mainstream traction as a means of mobile payment. NFC penetration in smartphones has begun to reach critical mass within the last generation of smartphones, with Apple being one of the last major holdouts. With the capability gaining momentum, VDC anticipates that NFC-enabled smartphone shipments are likely to reach 400-500 million in 2014. However, to date, while the technology is there, mobile payments have not taken off to a large extent, as evidenced by the relatively low take-up from Isis Wallet (now SoftCard). This has been primarily a function the trifecta of the lack of NFC-enabled payment infrastructure at checkout stations, general customer disinterest and smartphone shares that are only just reaching critical mass now. However, the sheer force of Apple’s cachet and its ability to bring partners like Target, Starbucks, McDonalds, Macy’s, and Bloomingdale’s could help to update a payment system that CEO Tim Cook noted is 50 years old. But despite the fact that the one-touch payment system shares no credit card information with the merchant and numbers are not stored on the phone, there are nevertheless concerns about the security of Apple Pay, especially in light of the recent security questions surrounding Apple and iCloud last week, in which celebrities' photos were stolen en masse. Given the sheer volume of credit card information that Apple holds and the rise in security breaches within companies like Target and, more recently, Home Depot, these are not idle concerns. With these recent breaches, retailers are on high alert and at least appear to want to do something to secure payments and are finally committing to upgrading their solutions.

The Apple Pay factor

Despite the potential of an NFC-enabled iPhone and the introduction of Apple Pay, the latter is not quite the disruptive move that many had anticipated or hoped for. Instead, Apple is largely taking on the role of enabler/facilitator and working directly with major banks and credit card issuers. While the revenue play for Apple in this scenario is limited, the option provides the greatest near-term boost to mobile payments. One outstanding question that remains is whether Apple Pay will/can directly link checking accounts as a payment option, as PIN code entry becomes an issue.

The wearable people might actually want to wear

With a hint of Jobsian flair, Cook announced that Apple did in fact have one more thing – the announcement of the highly anticipated, much-discussed smartwatch, simply named the Apple Watch. Staying true to its roots in product design, the device seeks to avoid the current hurdle of smartwatches being viewed as miniaturized smartphones strapped to the wrist. Although Apple emphasized the Watch’s high degree of customization, the company remained quiet on the topics of display resolution and, more importantly, battery life. Despite the current lack of specifications, the Apple watch has integrated key features that VDC believes are central to the success of the form factor: namely, the designing of a product that has a markedly different interface and means of interaction than other mobile devices. By supplementing the capacitive touch screen with a navigation wheel/home button dubbed the “digital crown”, the Apple Watch provides a simple and elegant solution to navigation while keeping the display un-obscured. More importantly, though, Apple will be making the API available to developers to create a host of applications that are specific to the form factor. As VDC will be discussing in depth in its report on wearable devices later this month, it is the combination of a rich application development ecosystem and relaying of contextual information in a format optimized for mini-interactions that will be the key to success not just for the Apple Watch, but for wearables as a whole. What remains to be seen, though, is the extent the Apple Watch will succeed as a wearable, given that the device – like other smartwatches with the notable exception of the Samsung Gear S – remains tethered to the smartphone and does not function as a standalone product. Although Apple has engineered and designed a strong product, the market has yet to see a true killer app emerge to solidify the form factor.  Nevertheless, the integration of NFC also adds potential to the device that, along with the other aforementioned capabilities, could help make smartwatches finally gain the traction needed to transition to fad to mainstream form factor with far-reaching opportunities within an enterprise setting.  

(with David Krebs, Executive Vice President)


Smaller Mobile Form Factors on the Rise for Line-of-Business Workers

The market is there, but headwinds remain

VDC Research has released its annual enterprise mobility report for smartphones and handheld devices, showing  that  the use of mobile devices to support line-of-business workers across numerous sectors continues to grow as organizations benefit from an increasingly connected and productive workforce. Industries continue to internalize the benefits of a mobilized workforce, as data from VDC shows an anticipated average increase of mobility-based budgets for 2014 of 10.6%. Smaller form factor devices – namely rugged handheld computers and smartphones – are among the most common devices being leveraged. VDC anticipates that a total of 3.3 million rugged handheld devices and 34 million smartphones will be deployed in 2014, growing the installed base to almost 70 million units.

However, increasing budget pressures and uncertainty in OS direction with rugged handheld devices are driving organizations to deploy greater numbers of smartphones for line-of-business applications. This trend has been aided by an expanding portfolio of third-party peripherals and accessories to bridge the gaps in data collection. The shift has been greatest in customer-facing industry verticals that are less centered on data collection and have fewer environmental requirements. This has primarily been the case in areas such as hospitality and retail, although there is interest in DSD and field services to adopt consumer devices and a growing desire to find a way to make BYOD work for frontline workers.

OEMs are evolving their designs

In response to the trend toward BYOD and enterprise-issued consumer devices, OEMs have evolved their product portfolio, taking design and user experience cues from their consumer counterparts. The rugged market, which traditionally has been divided primarily between data collection-centric “brick-style” devices and more portable PDAs, has expanded to include the rugged smartphone – touch-centric devices with no physical keyboards running on Android, but with fully rugged environmental specifications. This sub-category of smartphones represents one of the fastest-growing categories of small form factor devices for enterprise mobility, and VDC forecasts that the market will reach $3.8B by 2018.


OS uncertainty remains the largest obstacle to growth

Refresh cycles, which have become extended in recent years, are beginning to return in force among tier-1 companies. In the Americas, Home Depot, UPS, and the USPS are leading the charge with upgrade cycles that remain firmly rooted with rugged devices. Other organizations are returning to rugged devices after having experimented with smartphones in a line-of-business setting, which will also help to boost figures. However, the greatest obstacle for rugged OEMs will be OS direction. The majority of rugged devices on the market feature Windows Mobile or Embedded platforms that are rapidly approaching end-of-life, and the transition to Windows Embedded Handheld 8 has proven to be far from smooth, with mixed support from the OEM community. This has provided an opportunity for Android to enter the rugged market, but the OS faces its own issues of enterprise support and security, leading to muted demand from end users. This has led to considerable hesitation, as end users aren’t fully comfortable. As a result, VDC is seeing companies taking more of a ‘wait and see’ approach while maintaining their installed base.

For more information on the report, click here


Now VMWare is thinking with Portals

 ... the opportunities to provision applications securely and on the fly is truly revolutionary and a possibility if VMware can integrate and evolve the technologies it has acquired.

Today marks the last day of VMWorld, VMware’s annual conference located in San Francisco. One of the key announcements came on Wednesday with the unveiling of the VMware Workspace Suite, which includes desktop virtualization, identity management, and app, device and data management. The package features many elements from its AirWatch acquisition, including Secure Content Locker and mobile management software. A central element to the package is the Workspace Portal, which enables mobile users to access Windows applications, cloud services and web apps from a single, centralized location.


Imitation as a source of flattery…or confusion

Many people are noting the similarities between its new product suite and that of Citrix, which bears the exact same name. Citrix has taken note and took the opportunity to release a blog of its own – Imitation is never as good as the original – claiming that “It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And after reviewing VMware’s new announcement of Workspace Suite, all I can say is that all of us at Citrix are extremely flattered,”  before enumerating a point-by-point comparison of the two products.

However, despite creating a seeming workspace doppelganger, VMware is also likely to see increasing competition from Dell, which launched its own desktop virtualization solution, vWorkspace. Originally known as Quest Software, it was acquired by Dell in 2012 and offers additional features like support for Linux VMs and EOP protocol.

The Mobile Cloud Era: “Desktops Re-imagined and Inspired by Mobility”

VMware is weaving together technologies that have the potential to upend traditional end user computing deployment environments. The company’s recent acquisitions (AirWatch, Desktone, and CloudVolumes) are demonstrative of the mobile cloud era that VMware sees us entering. VDC agrees, and we believe that we are in the early days of a coming disruption in IT service delivery and the way organizations provision and manage devices for their workforce. While the adoption of virtualization technologies like those from VMware is limited, the opportunities to provision applications both securely and on the fly is truly revolutionary and a realistic possibility ifVMware can integrate and evolve the technologies it has acquired. We see the opportunity for cost savings and the flexibility that VMware has the potential to offer giving the firm a notable opportunity moving forward. VMware’s vision of delivery innovation as a service – from the data center to the desktop and mobile applications –are now a possibility; time will tell if end users are ready for it.

(With Kathryn Nassberg, Analyst)


Apperian Goes Big on User Acceptance Testing

The rise of the custom B2C and B2E app

With an increasingly mobile workforce relying on a combination of enterprise-issued and BYOD devices, the need of custom-made applications to support line of business workflows has grown significantly in recent years.  Data from VDC shows that there is a clear trend towards custom applications that are internally developed, as the year-on-year change for internally developed apps was positive across all industry verticals surveyed. Field mobility in particular saw a marked increase from 30% to 45% of apps being custom developed in-house.  While an increasing portion of resources are being allocated to development, quality assurance (QA) and user acceptance testing (UAT) are often complex and long processes that require specific skills and can be difficult to scale. Frequently, the testing pool is limited, and often relegated to a small number of employees, or even the developers themselves, which can adversely affect the user experience of the app. Apperian, a mobile-first ISV, is looking to address this shortcoming with the industry’s first large-scale solution for user-acceptance testing for mobile applications.

Engaging the community

Looking to overcome the traditional constraints of app testing, Apperian seeks to cast a broader net to both improve the stability and quality of the app, and to significantly cut down on time-to-market. According to CTO Carlos Montero-Luque,  Apperian has “reimagined what mobile app testing should be by empowering hundreds and even thousands of employees and/or contractors to be part of a user acceptance test process,” which they cite has already had a significant impact for early customers. In addition to saving money and time, engaging employees and the broader community provides a platform in which stakeholders have an opportunity to voice their opinions and know that their needs and concerns are being heard.

Security remains an issue

With the number of apps being developed in-house on the rise, security still remains a critical issue. Recent data from a VDC survey on software development reveals that only 8% of respondents have an application security program in place that is specific to mobile applications. When looking at in-house development, that number drops even lower, with a scant 4% of respondents having the means to test applications in-house.  Although most protection revolves around secure coding techniques, other measures, including binary protection countermeasures, are necessary to prevent hackers from pirating or compromising the confidentiality and integrity of applications. Failure to do so can result in applications that are easily reverse-engineered and modified. 

Security Practices Implemented During Mobile Application Development

Apperian blog

VDC data shows that while basic security needs are being met, there are still considerable gaps that remain and need to be addressed, as we have highlighted in previous blogs. This is a pain point for many enterprises and an opportunity for companies like Apperian, especially as development costs continue to rise. Adopting and utilizing tools to help ensure that mobile Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) best practices are being used will be critical for organizations as they pursue broader mobile enablement initiatives. Moving forward, sophisticated QA techniques, along with strategic usage UAT processes can help to ensure that apps have been adequately protected from hackers will be required, as the cost of security breaches can be enormous, not only in dollars but also in lost time, productivity, and an overall feeling of organizational well-being.

 (With Eric Klein, Senior Analyst)


EMM Vendors not Doing Enough to Satisfy Mobile Security Requirements

Securing mobile deployments in a fragmented security landscape

VDC will be releasing its annual mobile security report next week, which takes an in-depth look at how enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors have enhanced their mobile security capabilities and how ownership models like that of BYOD impact mobile security investments, as the line between personal computers and mobile devices is increasingly blurred. While the mobile hardware race is in full swing, so too is the battle among mobile ISVs, who are all vying to be the primary provider for an increasingly broad range of mobile solutions for today’s enterprise. An ever-growing mobile workforce carries with it an increasing amount of potentially vulnerable data ranging from emails and attachments, voicemail and private corporate data.  Vulnerabilities such as malware, direct attacks, data interception, exploitation, and social engineering all have transitioned into the mobile space as fluidly as the operating systems themselves. In addition to having a significant financial impact, such breaches can cost organizations in terms of lost time and productivity. As a result, infrastructure investments for mobile management and security are rapidly become a top priority for CIOs, CISOs and IT leaders.

There is no silver bullet

Traditional MDM vendors have expanded their functional range to include integrated end-to-end enterprise mobility management platforms, which incorporate key app, content and network management capabilities; although organizations are recognizing that more is needed to ensure that their devices are secure in a constantly evolving threat landscape. Given the nature of how work styles have changed, and increasing desire of employees to want/need to work at any time, from any location, with data that’s accessible from the company network, the Web, or the cloud, IT is faced with a moving target and requires a broad range of protective measures depending on their organization’s security posture. Given the multilayered security dynamics of mobile platforms, security cannot be assured by finding an ideal hardware configuration or relying on a single type of communications network to catch all threats. In a dynamic market, operating systems, applications, devices, and networks all have a significant impact on security.

Mobile-first ISVs with a strong security orientation that have entered the market are taking a decidedly different path. These vendors are using a combination of technologies and have taken differentiated approaches to securing mobile platforms. One clear difference is their focus on not limiting users to specific applications (what some call an “appnostic” approach) by providing the means to apply security policies to any application. This vendor class is also keen on promoting their vision of what containerization means. To these vendors, moving into a work persona is a form of containerization, or any app that is “badged” may also be considered as being containerized. Another key area of differentiation is the focus on data and applications rather than on devices themselves.

Enterprises are looking to boost EMM investments

Enterprises are looking to mitigate the risk of data breaches, but the solutions aren’t entirely satisfying enterprise requirements. According to a recent VDC survey, nearly 50% of the respondents to a survey recently fielded by VDC indicate that they were not completely satisfied with the level of security they were being provided by their mobile device management vendor partner.


VDC expects that continued investment in device management solutions will drive adoption of mobile security-related products, as enterprises deploy advanced solutions to track, monitor and authorize corporate data access, as an increasing number of their employees bring their devices into the workplace. For this reason, we believe that mobile security vendors can expect to see continued investments in their solutions due to their ability to secure heterogeneous mobile deployment environments and help to prevent against data loss from lost, stolen, compromised, or decommissioned devices.

(with Eric Klein, Senior Analyst)


Will Good Technology's IPO Be Better than Good?

Both the tech and finance world are awaiting the announcement of Good Technology’s IPO, which is hotly anticipated. The EMM firm filed its S-1 with the SEC in May of this year, following the successful IPO of rival MobileIron in April. Good’s IPO would mark the third public offering of a pure-play enterprise mobility firm since the IPO of Tangoe in 2011. While MobileIron’s IPO raised $100 million, selling 11 million shares and setting a strong precedent for Good Technology, there are nevertheless strong headwinds that face Good as it prepares to go public.

Less than good numbers in a competitive market

Among the chief concerns are Good’s earnings: the S-1 filing notes net losses of $41 million, $90.4 million and $118.4 million in 2011, 2012, and 2013 respectively, while billings dropped 2% year on year in Q1 to $47.4 million and 1% to $194.3 million in 2013. In a sector that is becoming fiercely competitive as more companies are looking to add advanced mobility services, this could present a considerable risk factor for Good.

While the number of pure-play EMM providers in the market is winnowing, there is nevertheless strong competition from companies like BlackBerry, MobileIron, and SOTI as well as from management and virtualization vendors like Citrix, Symantec, and VMware/AirWatch. Within its S-1, Good also lists competition from IBM, Microsoft and SAP, who have increasingly broadened their portfolios to offer advanced mobility solutions and have the ability to layer enhanced security capabilities through partners. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate a distinct competitive advantage, particularly when considering that many firms limit their device management to password enforcement and remote wipes. A recent (April 2014) VDC survey confirms this trend.

  Good Tech BlogHowever, VDC anticipates that more sophisticated application and data management solutions will be required as mobile enablement initiatives continue to expand in enterprise deployment environments.


A cautiously optimistic market awaits Good’s IPO

Good is well positioned to capitalize on these market trends from its ability to evolve its enterprise mobility solutions through the integration of very strategic technologies it has gained through acquisitions. We see these capabilities augmenting the company’s position in the EMM ecosystem. Copiun, AppCentral, BoxTone and Fixmo each filled notable holes in the company’s solution portfolio. While minor acquisitions, they all have provided Good with strong capabilities that complement its mobility solutions. While the company appears to be a long way off from profitability, MobileIron has proved that the market is amenable, given its confidence in the firm’s technology, roadmap, and pace of customer acquisition. As a result of this, as well as current market dynamics, VDC anticipates a successful IPO from Good in the coming weeks.

(with contributions from Eric Klein, Senior Analyst)


Oracle augments its cloud services with TOA acquisition

Oracle announced its plans on Thursday to acquire TOA Technologies, a Cleveland-based firm that specializes in cloud-based field service solutions. These SaaS solutions seek to optimize what Oracle refers to as the “last mile of customer service for enterprises” by coordinating and managing dispatchers, mobile employees and customers to improve service, empower service agents and allow for a more in-depth and long-term customer development. Although the terms of the acquisition remain undisclosed, TOA is considered global leader, as it manages services for major brands like Home Depot, Virgin Media, and Vodafone across more than 20 countries. By fitting into Oracle’s cloud services segment, the deal provides considerable synergies, especially within the realm of field mobility with TOA’s ETAdirect field service management system. 


Looking for smarter, better engagements

Oracle’s acquisition reflects the greater trend within field mobility in looking increasingly beyond reducing operational costs to measure success and to gauge solutions. A recent VDC end user survey revealed that the top two metrics used to measure field mobility solutions were improved worker productivity (45%) and better field worker communication/collaboration (33%). 

Oracle exhibit

Here too, the importance of increased customer service and loyalty mesh with Oracle’s emphasis on a modern approach to field service operations that include long-term brand and customer development through better customer engagements.

Taking the cloud to the field

Since its acquisition of RightNow in 2011, Oracle has made other key strategic (and recent) acquisitions which include BigMachines (October ‘13), Responsys (December ‘13), and BlueKai (February ‘14) to enhance its Cloud Service Platform. The acquisition of TOA further complements Oracle’s cloud services value play with a proven solution that enhances predictive scheduling and brings the ability to streamline service workflows for its customers. Oracle currently possesses scheduling solutions that compete with TOA's ETAdirect platform; however, VDC expects that Oracle will make it easy and attractive for existing customers to migrate to TOA's solutions once they enter an upgrade cycle.

Oracle’s actions make it clear that the company sees smaller and more focused/specialized firms such as Astea International, ClickSoftware, and ServiceMax as becoming increasingly competitive. ClickSoftware continues to sharpen its workforce management solutions and recently (February ‘14) acquired mobile specialist Xora. VDC sees field service solutions are a critical area for enterprise software vendors such as Oracle, particularly when considering workforce mobilization trends. VDC data shows that companies anticipate increasing enterprise mobility budgets by an average of 10.6% for 2014 year-on-year, and for field mobility applications, that figure rises to 11.1%. With smaller firms being acquired, the field is becoming increasingly competitive for the larger players, and VDC anticipates fierce competition ahead to capitalize on rising mobility budgets. 


(with contributions from Eric Klein, Senior Analyst)


BlackBerry Looks to Voice Encryption to Retain Customers

BlackBerry's acquisition of Secusmart, a secure communications specialist, gives BlackBerry a fighting chance to hold onto its government customers.

Earlier this week, BlackBerry announced that its acquisition of privately held German firm Secusmart as part of its drive to become the handset OEM of choice for security-conscious clients in federal markets and in enterprise. While Secusmart's technology has powered BlackBerry's encrypted emails and texts, secure browsing and encrypted file system since 2009, BlackBerry will now integrate going forward through this acquisition Secusmart's Security Card technology. The solution is dependent on the usage of a micro-SD card which features a crypto-controller with a PKI coprocessor for authentication. An additional high-speed coprocessor encrypts voice and data communication using 128 bit AES. Considering BlackBerry’s shrinking device sales, the company must continue to innovate specifically on its platforms embedded security in order to remain relevant as a handset OEM.

Although BlackBerry's footprint in federal markets and in regulated environments is significant, when compared to the overall enterprise market opportunity, they are a niche market. However, what works in BlackBerry’s favor is the fact that companies in these market segments are as reliable as a vendor can hope for in terms of repeat business and year-over-year growth potential due to their reliance on mobile technologies. Indeed, BlackBerry's CEO John Chen sees "these markets as equating to half of IT spending in mobile technologies"; while this is a bit of an overstatement in our view, the opportunity is significant. Under Chen, the company has been very clear in its aim to reinforce BlackBerry as the best platform for secure communications in enterprise settings, and particularly in regulated industries. However, as has been well documented, BlackBerry continues to lose customers to EMM vendors like AirWatch, Good and MobileIron, who have all initiated marketing campaigns focused on painless switching to their respective platforms. While these campaigns in aggregate have had varying success, there is no question that there has been attrition. Although BlackBerry has “opened up” its platform and now allows competing EMM vendor to manage its devices, VDC saw this move as signaling that the company recognizes its position as the incumbent has waned and needed to move with the mobile ecosystem.

The acquisition of Secusmart does bring new high profile reference customer for BlackBerry to tout (in addition to President Barack Obama) with German Chancellor Angela Merkel who found herself the victim of a major security breach (click here, and here) when her iPhone was hacked this past November.

Encrypted Voice is a Super Competitive Market

Moving forward, BlackBerry’s Security will remain as the company’s key differentiator, and is why the company’s best shot for a turnaround rests on its ability to retain and grow its market share in the enterprise.  However, the market that the Secusmart acquisition signals that the company plans to participate in is a crowded one. Organizations such as Motorola Solutions whose bread and butter is in government and regulated markets have had competing products on the market for some time. Motorola Solutions AME2000 product provides end-to-end encrypted voice and data communications on public and private data networks. The solution targets public safety and federal markets which are core target markets for the company. AME200 also features sophisticated hardware-based encryption and key management via a proprietary microSD component of the solution (called CRYPTR micro), to support Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 Level 3 and Full NSA Suite B Cipher Suites. Motorola isn’t the only vendor either: Silent Circle emerged earlier this year (whose “surveillance proof” Blackphone, started shipping just last month) which can encrypt voice calls, Boeing’s Black phone features an embedded “self destruct” security feature along with the ability to communicate via satellite transceivers for secure voice communications, and FreedomPop’s privacy phone (which runs on Samsung hardware) key feature is voice encryption, and it can even be purchased via Bitcoin for “anonymity”. Suffice it to say that the secure voice and messaging market has quickly become crowded. Not to mention that vendors such as Open Whisper Systems and Silent Circle offer apps (no hardware required) to bring encrypted voice capabilities to the Android and iOS platforms.

A Niche but Valuable Market

While the confidentiality of private telephone calls has come under attack, the need for voice encryption for enterprises and private individuals is not apparent. There is no question that our privacy is being threatened by increasingly sophisticated adversaries and that certain executives and government personnel that routinely engaging in the exchange of private information or who conduct sensitive business transactions from abroad may be targeted. Large global organization do face the challenge of securing a global network of branch offices, subsidiaries, partners and project teams around the world and having the confidence that sensitive information and trade secrets remain confidential is important but the overall market is limited in scope and remains firmly as a niche. Nevertheless, as BlackBerry’s enterprise presence is becoming increasingly relegated to federal and regulated environments, embracing its niche position is, in VDC’s view, the firm’s best option for long-term viability. Acquiring Secusmart could give BlackBerry the security boost it needs to retain its current customer base and provide meaningful differentiation.


Apple Welcomes IBM. Seriously.

Tuesday saw the landmark announcement of an exclusive partnership between Apple and IBM in which IBM will bring its MobileFirst solutions to iOS and allow the former rival to sell iPhones and iPads with industry-specific solutions. With the impending release of the more enterprise-friendly iOS8 later this month, the announcement represents the culmination of Apple’s transition from consumer trendsetter to enterprise powerhouse.  

A decisive break from the Jobs Era

The move firmly cements Tim Cook’s vision for Apple as a clear departure from the Jobs era, which saw much of the company’s history defined as a direct rivalry between the two firms, in which Jobs saw IBM as the Goliath to be defeated by his underdog David of a company. At its peak in the 1980s, the rivalry indeed took on near-biblical proportions in the form of full-page taunts to IBM in the Wall Street Journal and the now-legendary Super Bowl ad. Now, Apple has become the hardware giant and IBM has transitioned towards the cloud, big data and enterprise mobility, having moved away from the personal computing hardware in the last decade and making key acquisitions in analytics, security cloud computing infrastructure to position itself accordingly.

Welcome ibm

Apple’s shot across the bow to Android

The announcement comes on the heels of Google’s I/O conference, where it revealed not only the upcoming Android L, but a closer partnership with Samsung to integrate KNOX into the next version of Android. Dubbed Android for Work, the collaboration aims to place Google and Samsung at the forefront of enterprise mobility and overcome the shortcomings Android faces by the variety of handsets and versions of the OS on the market that all vie to compete against Apple’s iOS products. By teaming up with IBM, with its enterprise IT credibility, Apple has its presence in enterprise even more daunting. Although much of the company’s success in the past has hinged on its massive consumer popularity, but this was hindered by a lack of professional services, support and distribution channels geared towards enterprise. In addition to the engineering of native, industry-specific applications for iOS Apple seeks to overcome this with the combination of AppleCare for enterprise that is supplemented with on-site technical support and service that will hold considerable appeal for CIOs worldwide. By offering support service capabilities ranging from break/fix support and onboarding to asset and application management and security services, Apple has laid down the gauntlet and, at the very least, stolen much of Google’s recent enterprise thunder.

Crunch time for the competition

News of Apple and IBM’s new partnership will have a profound effect on other OEMs, particularly Samsung and Microsoft. For the former, this will likely mean forging and even closer relationship with Google, where the company has hesitated in the past. Despite their collaboration to integrate KNOX on Android, Samsung has shown a certain level of ambiguity in its relationship to Google, namely in the release of the Samsung Z in Russia and India featuring the manufacturer’s proprietary Tizen OS. At the heart of it, VDC sees two non-enterprise focused companies that have made decided enterprise overtures. While Google has made inroads to diminish Apple’s lead, this relationship could propel Apple back towards a considerable lead.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is in the midst of its own re-positioning as it is poised to announce the largest round of layoffs in the company’s history. Microsoft has struggled in bringing its devices into the era of mobility, and only made its Office suite available for the iPad in March of this year. Apple’s announcement could very well move the company further from hardware and increasingly into the cloud. As recently as last week, new CEO Satya Nadella published a company-wide memo outlining Microsoft’s intention to redefine what the company views as its core in a world that he defines as “mobile-first and cloud-first.” With Apple and IBM’s exclusive new partnership, Microsoft will have its work cut out for it in preparation for next week’s MGX and beyond.   


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