115 posts categorized "Market Leaders"

02/19/2015

Mobile Payments Race Heats Up with Samsung’s LoopPay Acquisition

Samsung announced yesterday its acquisition of the Burlington, MA-based startup LoopPay Inc. for an undisclosed amount after reports of the two companies working together a mobile payments solution in late 2014 towards. The announcement heralds Samsung’s entry into the mobile payments fray, pitting it squarely against Apple and Google Wallet as the market for the digital wallet continues to evolve.

Making a digital wallet retailers will work with

The mobile payment market, particularly in the US, has undergone considerable change in recent years although much of the progress has been dependent upon both the cooperation from banking institutions and retailers’ willingness to adopt newer point-of-sales terminals. The latter in particular has been a key stumbling block for NFC-enabled solutions, like that of Google Wallet, which launched in 2011. Although the announcement of the iPhone 6 and Apple Pay did much to raise general awareness to the technology, its impact remains somewhat limited. Estimates from Apple from its Q1 earnings call show that less than a quarter of a million retail outlets out of a total numbering in the millions have the ability to accept Apple Pay. While this obstacle will eventually overcome as the migration continues from traditional the magnetic stripe to the EMV chip and PIN system, the tipping point for a major revamp to the greater retail market likely will not occur for at least another year, despite liability dangers looming on the horizon. Samsung’s acquisition of LoopPay helps to bridge the gap by offering a system that uses Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology that that functions with existing point-of-sale infrastructure, which means it can be used with some 90% of existing credit card terminals, although the system requires the purchase of either a card case or fob in addition to the download of the app – an approach similar to that of Square. As some note, while pertinent now, the migration towards EMV could mean that Samsung is providing a solution to a short-term problem with the acquisition in a market that is rapidly evolving.

No mobile payment solution to rule them all

In addition to facing off against Google Wallet and Apple Pay, Samsung will be pitted against other emerging services, like that of CurrentC. While many retailers have sought less cost-intensive mobile payment solutions through proprietary apps using QR codes, retail giants Wal-Mart, Target, CVS and others formed the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) in 2012 to create a merchant-owned mobile payment system. The system gained notoriety when participating companies sought to block the implementation of systems like Apple Pay and Softcard and fell victim shortly thereafter to a sizeable security breach in which the email addresses of participants of the pilot program where accessed. In addition to claims of collusion, CurrentC has been lukewarm given the multi-step payment process using QR codes versus NFC’s more streamlined contactless payment method. As a result, the mobile payment market is becoming increasingly fragmented as it has pitted consumers who are seeking convenience against retailers who want to maintain greater control over transactions without having to adopt costly point-of-sale technology.

Balancing convenience and security 

The recent and high profile security breaches that have occurred at some of America's largest brands (Anthem Healthcare, Target, and the Home Depot) demonstrated that breaches can not only be expensive (several retailers we're forced to pay some $200M each in damages in the past 12 months alone), but can harmful to brand loyalty. Consumers disclose a treasure trove of identity theft information with each transaction they consummate. This makes finding the right balance between security, privacy and convenience a key priority for mobile payment vendors. While security remains paramount, consumers won't adopt a payment solution that is cumbersome. While PCI-compliant (and sophisticated encryption) is embedded into every payment solution, moving forward, VDC sees a key challenge for vendors to work with experts (i.e., the credit card industry, as well as privacy advocates, cybersecurity experts, government agencies – following the more military-oriented path towards security forged by JP Morgan) to draft, implement and enforce rigid sets of cyber protections across a fragmented payment market with significant “co-opetition” and channel conflict. 

With Eric Klein, Senior Analyst 

02/13/2015

Revamping the Enterprise Inbox

Email, which has long been an established piece of enterprise productivity and at the tail-end of innovation, has received a considerable makeover in recent months. An increasingly mobilized workforce in recent years has meant that the majority of emails are now read first on a mobile device. The result is a palpable trend in the market to revamp email where ease of use and productivity is maintained in a cross-platform and touch-centric format. Many of these innovations include more seamless calendar integration, improved triage, search, and archiving functions, as well as enhanced communication tools that integrate chat and voice that are particularly well-suited to mobile platforms like the smartphone.

 

Major players, including Google, IBM, and Microsoft have worked to further integrate email into their mobile offerings and acquiring firms to help bolster their position. Recent acquisitions by Microsoft and HP of Accompli and Voltage respectively, as well as the emergence of companies like Mailpile, ProtonMail and Nacho Cove lend credence to this trend towards a more mobile-first experience for enterprise email. Even companies that have traditionally focused on consumer markets are throwing their hat into the ring: last month, Amazon announced its own email service, WorkMail, to be powered by the increasingly popular Amazon Web Service. Thomas Döhler, General Manager of the WorkMail team, notes that enterprise is at the point where email is now part of the business process. Rather than a simple communication tool, it has become an integral part of general business processes and a receptacle where critical business information is stored and controlled. Email, without question, is the most ubiquitous means of enterprise communication, despite the recent rise in popularity of social collaboration and texting. While newer iterations will look to integrate these social features into the mix to enhance productivity, email will remain the primary means of enterprise communication for the foreseeable future.

 

It is worth noting, however, that this is not the first time that email has undergone a significant revamp. Over the years, numerous companies have tried to reinvigorate email, but failed to fundamentally alter the nature of the inbox. However, the growing importance of mobile platforms in business has meant that mobility has forced a willingness to change among companies in how they treat email. The result has been a rethinking in how email is accessed and integrated into a cross-application and cross-platform ecosystem. 2015 will mark a watershed year in which there is a growing willingness to change how companies treat email and could see a fundamental change to the nature of the inbox if the challenges surrounding privacy and security can be sufficiently addressed.

 VDC will be taking a closer look at the challenges faced in this month’s VDC View. Stay tuned for more information.

 

with Eric Klein, Senior Analyst

02/06/2015

How Quickly Will DYI Mobile Initiatives Give way to Mobile Managed Services?

Mobile device proliferation has IT departments reconsidering how to best deliver increasingly business-critical mobile IT services.

While business analysts are now more experienced with identifying the right use cases and design requirements for mobile applications, designing, developing, integrating, managing, and maintaining these apps remains a significant task. Mobilizing and integrating manual business processes and workflows with modern mobile platforms is not only complex but costly, particularly when considering that many legacy applications and systems are not being abandoned. Creating new mobile applications to integrate with legacy systems requires both a high degree of specialized skills and additional software. As a result, enterprises are quickly discovering that mobile enablement is not only costly and time-consuming, but that managing and maintaining their deployment environments may be best handled by an external 3rd party.

VDC sees expanded usage of mobile devices to facilitate day-to-day business as an enabler for IT to reassert the importance of its role in digital transformation initiatives. However, considering that these initiatives are (likely) already underway, selecting the right partner(s) to deliver a suite of more reliable and robust mobile IT services will become increasingly important – particularly for organizations where mobile initiatives have become business-critical. VDC's research shows that even the largest enterprises are inadequately staffed with the mobile expertise required to properly manage and maintain a rapidly growing mobile deployment environment. Professional services vendors have proved their ability to deliver strategic business impact to their customers, not just operating cost reductions. Additionally, these vendors are increasingly well equipped to help their customer implement mobile innovations with more speed and less pain.  

That said, end-to-end “as a service” mobility solutions will ultimately be the de facto choice for many enterprises going forward. Considering the early stages of true mobile enablement in enterprise, managed mobility services from managed service providers (MSPs), communication service providers (CSPs), and systems integrators (SIs) are poised to benefit from the current mobile boom. Due to limited mobile IT support capabilities, VDC expects organizations to expand their relationships with third-party solution providers that specialize in mobile solution support and integration. The services opportunity will expand well beyond traditional mobile hardware support and break-fix services that are common today. Mobility-oriented services to support expanding deployment environments, application and database integration, as well as security, asset management and logistics services will be key areas of focus for professional services firms going forward.

VDC has just released a comprehensive Report on the market opportunity for Mobile Professional Services. Vendors were profiled in this Report include:

CSPs: AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Business, and Vodafone Global Enterprise
SIs: Atos, Cognizant, HCL, IBM Global Services, and Infosys
Mobile-First Solution Providers: DMI, Enterprise Mobile, Stratix, Vox Mobile and Zebra Technologies

Click here to download the Executive Brief, or email me for more information.

01/22/2015

A Return to Innovation as Microsoft Lifts the Veil at Windows 10 Event

 

Windows 10_image

Yesterday saw Microsoft reveal more details about the upcoming Windows 10 OS. After two years of limited success with Windows 8, Microsoft has sought to recapture its audience with a return to the familiar with the reintroduction of the Start button as an integral feature, as well as expanding the system to serve as a unified platform across all form factors. In addition to improving the functionality of the Action Center, Windows 10 will also incorporate Cortana across form factors, including the PC. With this suite of features and improvements, Microsoft hopes that it can leverage its position as market leader among PCs to increase its mobile market share, which has languished in the single digits since launching.

Shifting towards a unified experience

One of the more profound elements to Windows 10 is that, unlike Windows 8, the OS moves beyond a limited set of devices to encompass a much broader spectrum of options. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella emphasized this point, stating that the notion of mobility that the firm is pursuing is not so much about mobility of computing on a given device, but rather, “the mobility of experience across devices.” Taking cues from how Apple has moved to allow for seamless transitioning between devices with applications, Microsoft aims to increase the fluidity of the OS experience as it continues its shift towards its goal of “Windows-as-a-service.” This is a much-needed transition for Microsoft, which has struggled to overcome a reactionary approach to the market, especially as end-users are frequently looking to take their work from one form factor to the next. The reality is one where the device itself is becoming less central to the process, as the market for current enterprise form factors has matured considerably, becoming fairly homogenous in the process.

The return of the prodigal OS

There has been considerable buzz around Windows 10 among both consumer and enterprise end-users. For the latter, it has been a prolonged period of wait and see; there has been a reluctance to adopt Android due to concerns around security, the complexity of migrating legacy applications, and considerable OS fragmentation. Nevertheless, Tier-1 and Tier-2 companies in North America are following their European counterparts’ lead in overcoming their reluctance to adopt Android. Still – many express a desire for Windows. If Microsoft can provide the OS to enterprise in a timely manner, the move could sap much of Android’s enterprise momentum, especially in the rugged sphere, as 2015 increasingly looks to be a key turning point for the enterprise market. Microsoft’s announcement that the OS will be provided gratis to users of Windows 7 and 8 will likely help the OS gain traction quickly.

 Windows 10 beefs up its EMM capabilities

While Microsoft has struggled with its mobile initiatives in recent years, its long history serving the technology infrastructure needs of large organizations puts Microsoft in a strong position to deliver enterprise mobility solutions in the coming years. With its upcoming Windows 10 release, Microsoft plans key security enhancements and options that are requisite in heterogeneous mobile deployment environments. The Windows 10 release will feature sophisticated containerization capabilities that will give enterprises more control over their content, allowing for content to be marked as corporate, encrypted, and then be wiped if the relationship between the corporation and user has ended. Preventing data leakage has been a key area of focus in Windows 10; corporate data can be identified as corporate vs. user, encrypted, and wiped on command. The 10 release will further expand into biometric capabilities and enable authentication with your biometric identity anywhere in Windows (Windows sign-in, remote access, User Account Control, etc.). App management features also take advantage of 10's biometrics and can be incorporated for Windows Store apps, functions within them, and be used to control certificates.  VDC sees the aforementioned containerization features and a refresh of its System Center Configuration Manager software (along with ensuring the legacy SCCM 2007 release is compatible with Windows 10) as critical success factors; Microsoft’s Intune device management platform must also evolve and incorporate more cross platform capabilities. We expect tight integration of its prolific Microsoft products (Outlook, Office, and SharePoint) in the 10 release – if Microsoft can deliver the consistent and familiar experience across platforms that it promises, the vendor will almost be guaranteed to be a viable contender in the enterprise mobility market.

Bringing innovation back

Microsoft topped off its Windows 10 event with by revealing the HoloLens, an augmented reality HUD that incorporates holographs and floating video feed capabilities for enhanced two-way communication. Although still in its infancy, the technology presents enterprise potential, much in the way that mounted wearables are currently testing the waters. While the payoff for Microsoft will likely be far from immediate, it marks a profound shift for the firm and a decisive break from the Ballmer era and a transition back towards innovation. In a rapidly shifting market where older firms like HP and BlackBerry are struggling to remain relevant, Microsoft is keen to shed its image as a reactionary relic of a bygone era. Yesterday’s announcement is definitely a step in the right direction. 

 

With Eric Klein, Senior Analyst

01/14/2015

VDC’s Mobile NRF Recap

With a show the scale of NRF there is no shortage of topics to address, so our focus will be on mobile solutions that struck us as particularly unique or crafty. The broad themes were largely an extension of topics introduced over the last couple of years: The "connected" and "in-control" customer; seamless "omni-channel" experiences; two-way "sharing" of information. While there clearly are retail visionaries who are daring and "get it" – like Cole Haan and the access they are providing their customers to in-store inventory or Outfittery, with its innovative focus on personalized curation - there seems to still be a lot of unsubstantiated noise. Among the IT meta-trends of big data, analytics and IoT, the retail sector is - surprisingly - behind when compared to other industries. While there is a lot of data being collected and analysis conducted, deriving meaningful value remains a challenge to most. From a purely mobile perspective, some of the dominant themes centered on mobile payments, the continued mobile platform wars and the shifting competitive landscape.

Mobile payments remain a central theme to NRF, especially as the push for EMV continues and OEMS are moving to adopt systems that integrate chip and pin readers. Verifone, the leading mobile payment and POS solutions provider in North America has taken a modular approach that is both device- and platform-agnostic, simplifying the certification process and enabling the company to partner with a wide array of mobile OEMs such as Samsung and Apple and leaving the mobile question in the hands of the retailer. Given the multitude of platforms that are increasingly becoming the norm in enterprise and in front-of-store retail and the shortening lifecycle for deployed devices, this provides Verifone much-needed flexibility to remain at the forefront of mobile payment solutions. From Verifone’s perspective what was also interesting and unique was its continued shift towards software and services with its Secure Commerce Architecture the most impactful for retailers. This solution provides a point to point encryption approach that directly transmits card data to the processor without touching the retailer’s POS system. At the other end of the mobile payments spectrum, Panasonic has introduced one of the first fully integrated mPOS devices in the Toughpad FZ-R1, which combines a 7” all-in-one tablet running full Windows 8.1 with a dedicated PCI compliant mobile payment element supporting chip and pin and with an encrypted mag stripe option in a semi-rugged casing. While the price point of the device will be a challenge for Panasonic, this does provide them with a clear differentiation and inroads into other segments beyond quick serve restaurants.

Another dominant theme that permeated the convention is the continuation of the mobile platform wars in retail at all levels. Mobile strategies by retailers over the past several years have favored Apple’s iOS powered devices and more recently Android-based smartphones and tablets supporting a variety of ‘customer facing’ applications. Rugged handheld devices, prominent for scan-intensive inventory management applications, suffered this shift in focus and were further marginalized by Microsoft’s inability to provide an adequate and timely transition strategy to next generation platforms for these devices. While the legacy Windows Mobile 6.x/Embedded CE platforms remain perfectly suitable for many of the applications they are supporting, especially for more keyboard-centric solutions such as those prevalent in the warehouse. However, when it comes to more touch-centric devices, these platforms really do not stack up with iOS and Android. A blurry OS strategy evolved with rugged OEMs shifting focus towards Android. While Android has faced an uphill battle in the enterprise and especially on rugged devices – issues relating to persistent wireless connectivity a frequent frustration among end users – 2014 represented somewhat of a breakthrough year for rugged Android handheld devices in the retail sector, especially in North America. ISV support of Android was reaching critical mass, enterprise support on a broad or horizontal level was improving and in Home Depot the first benchmark account emerged. We expect that momentum to continue into 2015. While Windows Embedded Handheld 8 was scrapped almost as quickly as it was introduced, 8.1 showed some promise. However with only Panasonic and Bluebird introducing devices, options remain limited. Honeywell appears to also be throwing its hat in the ring with a WEH8.1 device slotted for Q2 2015. However, the sense that we got was that there would be another round of “wait and see” on the Microsoft front with vendors and end users pointing to Windows 10. Make no mistake, there is a vested interest among several accounts – especially in North America – for a strong Microsoft option for rugged handheld devices. It is just taking a lot longer to materialize.

An interesting wrinkle in the OS/architecture debate for handheld devices was introduced by BSQUARE with its MobileV reference platform. MobileV is a complete hardware and software reference solution based on Intel architecture and Windows Embedded 8.1. The software enables screen resolutions compatible with displays ranging from 3.5” and up. In other words x86 and big Windows on a handheld device. Together with partner AAVA, a Finnish mobile device manufacturer, they presented a 5” handheld/tablet and 7” tablet based on MobileV. There has been growing discussion and interest in this option in the market. However, from a BOM and power performance perspective, it will be a challenge for solutions and applications traditionally supported by rugged handheld devices today and will likely take more time to be viable outside of select niche use cases.

The overall competitive landscape within retail is shifting, as merged companies seek to realign their brand and established firms look to take on a more direct relationship with end-users. For the former, Zebra is a prime example, following its headline-grabbing acquisition of Motorola Solutions’ enterprise business in 2014. Traditionally a back-of-store company, Zebra is putting in significant effort and funding to establish a more customer-facing retail presence, not only with the Motorola device portfolio, but in shop floor solutions that leverages its Zatar IoT platform. While futuristic and eye-catching, these technologies will require considerable consumer opt-in to really take off in a meaningful way. However, their offerings of in-store analytics to measure foot traffic and dwell time fit squarely into a growing market that is seeing competition from all sides, including Samsung and AT&T. Samsung could prove to be a serious contender as it has increasingly focused its attention to enterprise in wake of considerable contraction from its consumer devices. The firm’s brand recognition, strengthening Android security and broad retail partnership portfolio should expose Samsung to increased retail opportunity.

with David Krebs, EVP

01/08/2015

Vuzix and XOEye Partner to offer end-to-end wearable enterprise solutions

Leading HUD manufacturer Vuzix continues its trend of strategic partnerships with the announcement earlier this week of its partnership with wearable tech firm XOEye to create an end-to-end solution for more rugged industry segments that include manufacturing, construction, and field services. Under the partnership, Vuzix will bundle its flagship M100 smart glasses with XOEye’s cloud-based software platform and applications developed to enhance communication and operation efficiencies, particularly in regards to remote diagnostics, managerial support, compliance and project documentation. As XOEye CEO Aaron Salow notes, “Demand for wearables in the workplace continues to increase as requirements for efficiency, workplace safety, and compliance across many sectors are becoming increasingly commonplace and, in some cases, mandated.” Data from VDC bears this out, as there is growing interest across industry verticals for wearable devices, as use cases for the form factor accumulate.

The partnership comes on the heels of the announcement of Intel’s purchase of a $25 million stake in Vuzix, as well as with collaborations with Lenovo to co-brand the M100 in China. This comes in conjunction with SAP’s partnership to provide enterprise applications to the device announced in MWC lat year, as well as support on the Salesforce Wear platform, which is intended to provide a platform for developers to provide enterprise-oriented apps geared designed specifically for wearable devices.  Although much of the initial buzz for smart glasses like Google Glass originated in the consumer market, its appeal has cooled considerably. As a result, Google has increasingly shifted its attention for the device towards the enterprise market, which does not have the same aversion to head-mounted displays – a considerable obstacle in the consumer market. As a result, Vuzix will not only face growing competition from companies like Epson, but increasingly from Google as well. Nevertheless, the recent combination of co-branding and funding has placed Vuzix on a very solid global footing.

While the demand for wearables in enterprise is growing, many of the applications remain relatively niche. Unlike other form factors deployed in an enterprise setting, wearables covers a very broad spectrum of devices that encompass a plurality of applications and capabilities, making it difficult to address the form factor as a whole. Additionally, many organizations are hesitant to deploy wearables in line of business applications, as research from VDC reveals that lack of a perceived ROI remains a significant barrier to adoption across industry verticals. Nevertheless, the benefits of hands-free mobility and direct two-way communication are strong value propositions that are gaining ground in areas like field services and manufacturing, where efficiency gains, as well as safety and compliance provide a strong impetus to look to wearables as a solution. Many of these opportunities and challenges are addressed in an upcoming report from VDC on wearables in line-of-business applications. 

12/08/2014

VC $'s Flowing into Mobile Development Startups

More than $200M has been invested in notable vendors that are participating in mobile development platform and tools market in just the past ~12 months.

Significant venture capital investments continue to pour into the mobile development platform and tools space. More than $200M has been invested in notable vendors that are participating in this market in just the past 12 months (see below). VC's who are banking on successful exits have reason to optimistic in our view.

Mdp_funding

On the M&A front, there have been two notable (and recent) acquisitions. mBaaS vendor FeedHenry was acquired by Red Hat in September 2014 for $82M, and testing and UI framework specialist Telerik was acquired by Progress Software in October 2014 for $262.5M. These are large transactions when compared to prior acquisitions in this space, which were on the smaller end of the spectrum (RhoMobile by Motorola, Nitobi by Adobe, and Worklight by IBM).

VDC believes that M&A in the space will be on the rise in terms of the size and number of acquisitions; this is natural in a rapidly evolving space. Core engineering will play a big part in vetting the valuation of future transactions with open technology, scalability, security, and resilience leading the charge. VDC sees valuations rising, based not only on revenue and progress with customer acquisition but on innovation and the ability to tie into broader ecosystems and emerging markets.

There are several logical buckets for potential consolidators in this space. Large enterprise software/middleware (such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP); Cloud vendors in the PaaS space who are looking to augment their mobile capabilities (e.g., Amazon, Citrix, Salesforce, VMware etc.); application lifecycle vendors (such as Adobe, Opentext, and Progress Software); mobile solutions providers (such as Intel and Synchronous); and potentially IT professional service providers looking to integrate and assemble their own solution to service their customers. We also believe there will be consolidation among the distribution, discovery, and analytics players. In summary, we believe the mobile applications space has reached an inflection point and thus will gain increased interest on both the funding and M&A front.

For more insights into our coverage of the mobile development platforms and tools market you can download the executive brief to the recent Report that we published on this topic.

10/02/2014

LANDESK consolidates mobile productivity position with Naurtech acquisition

Yesterday, Systems user-oriented IT solutions provider LANDESK announced its acquisition of Naurtech, a firm that develops connectivity solutions to provide mobile access to enterprise data and applications for devices running Windows CE. The move represents the firm’s third mobility acquisition in three years and consolidates LANDESK’s terminal emulation capabilities, which, while somewhat niche, remain central for industry segments like warehousing and manufacturing. Despite being a somewhat older technology when compared to other branches of enterprise mobility products and solutions, the ability to integrate from the backend is critical. While Naurtech has remained a relatively quiet brand to date, it nevertheless has a longstanding history that compliments the capabilities of Wavelink, an enterprise mobility firm that provides terminal emulation, voice-enabled productivity software and device management solutions acquired by LANDESK in 2012. As Vice President of mobile productivity business Steve Bemis notes, “Naurtech brings complementary expertise that will strengthen support for our mobile operating systems and provide support for additional ruggedized devices.”

In addition to providing access to certain segments of the market – like aviation and retail – to which LANDESK previously did not have, the acquisition of Naurtech fills an important gap by providing one of the only SAP-ready solutions to the market. The existing relationship gives the firm a distinct advantage for organizations looking to improve line-of-business worker productivity within a SAP framework. The acquisition also serves as an investment in engineering as Wavelink takes over to modernize and advance mobile platforms for LOB solutions moving forward.

Although not a market moving deal, the transaction does fortify Wavelink’s leadership position in TE for mobile line of business applications. In addition to plugging a key gap in its solution and partner portfolio, Wavelink has the opportunity to leverage Naurtech’s engineering and development resources to lead much needed mobile application modernization within its target markets.  

With David Krebs, Executive Vice President

09/10/2014

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)

08/28/2014

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.

Vmware_blog_graphic

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)