32 posts categorized "Mobile Internet Devices"


When and Where for HTML5?

Even before Facebook declared, "The biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native.", there had been much debate about the viability of developing mobile applications on HTML5. When an e-mail came to a colleague with the message:  Don't Miss Out:  Try our new NYTimes Web App for iPad free; my thoughts were, hey, here's a web app being boldly promoted by a content leader formerly known for a native app.

VDC has never seen HTML5 as a panacea for developing applications that can deploy on any device. For the enterprise, the challenge is understanding the needs of the user to determine if a native or web application (see our full report, Mobile Development Platforms http://bit.ly/i3C8x1) is the most suitable path to get the job done. What essential requirements should be evaluated to determine the path for mobile application development?

Nearly as important as cost considerations, are the technical and functional requirements of the application, which we consider the most significant drivers for selecting a native, web app, or a hybrid development approach. The enterprise needs to align the end-user requirements with the business need to drive the decision-making process.


Whether your mobile strategy is looking to increase revenues, expand markets, compete directly, play catch-up in the market; or some other goal; be sure to balance the needs of the user with the priority of the mobile opportunity for the end-user. One of the most frequent comments about HTML is that it's not robust enough to create "stickiness" with customers. (Limited capabilities in supporting advanced device features available by a native OS such as integrating data from the app into the phone, push notifications, update calendars, etc.) For a content provider, like the NYTimes, is it essential to provide these features, or is it enough to start with a mostly digital version of their paper with some other features? Whether it is or not, it meets a user requirement for a web app.

To determine technical and functional requirements, again, the user profile should lead the evaluation, but within mobile parameters. Given the nature of mobile (a small screen, gaps in connectivity), the enterprise does not necessarily need to replicate a desktop application on mobile. If the browser (as a "container") cannot connect with core device-side features, what will be the impact in a mobile environment for the user? Is a camera, or microphone paramount to the user experience?

Other companies such as LinkedIn and Walmart have taken a hybrid approach, which allows access to some hardware device features, and does not limit application development to only one platform. As a content providers, one guiding parameter for mobile strategy is reaching all users.

Is The New York Times using this app to evaluate HTML5? Probably. Does it accelerate customer penetration on mobile devices? Yes. Does it give them the user experience to launch other web apps in the future? Definitely, and the "middleman" (and their revenue share) are taken out of the equation.

What parameters are you seeing for native versus web approach? What features if made available on HTML could displace a native approach?


Android Has a Target on Its Back

While final decisions on the Apple vs. Samsung Lawsuit are not expected until a ruling scheduled for December 6, there are some clear implications for both the software and hardware market.

Despite the recent verdict from the lawsuit that Samsung's hardware infringed on Apple's intellectual property, VDC Research does not believe that Samsung is the primary target of Apple. It's Google. A once happy relationship has bee on the rocks and now is broken. Apple's zeal to squash Android is driven by Apple's increasingly direct competitive positioning with Google. If Apple went after Samsung's hardware devices to get to the Android operating system, what are the implications for the Android licensee market?

If Android software is essentially the Google operating platform, although not as tightly controlled as the Apple iOS platform, as a result of the lawsuit verdict, Apple has raised the competitive stakes for the Android ecosystem of hand-held devices and tablets. For one of the largest e-commerce retailers, Amazon, the stakes could be even higher. Right now, Amazon has built its Kindle e-reader on the Android platform, albeit a platform that is significantly modified. Given the legal verdict, licensees of the Android OS that are not closely aligned with the core Android OS are exposing themselves to scrutiny from Apple. Apple has sent a strong message that it will pursue companies they believe violate their patented technologies. Hence, the parameters for development and design for all licensees of Android need to clearly differentiate themselves from the existing market and not rely on "me-too" devices, or Apple will certainly strike. For Amazon, it's a clear directive that any path off the core Android OS needs to ensure it doesn't expose them to patent infringement.

Given Android's target appeal, the bird's eye view of Microsoft's competitive position may have improved as the Windows 8 platform uses a more differentiated UI, Metro, and Microsoft's licensing of patents from Apple may keep it out of Apple's crosshairs. While Microsoft may gain some incremental market share, for Microsoft to really capitalize on the situation will be dependent on whether companies using Android will feel the need to diversify.

The new reality for the Android ecosystem requires design and development that stays far enough away from Apple. The "me-too" market for product development has been curtailed, which means that competitors will need true innovation to be competitive and that is a win for customers. The hurdle is certainly not too high for companies like Amazon as a competitive company should be able to bring out a product that doesn't infringe on Apple's IP. It just means Tom sitting in his garage might not be able to do it. 

Of course, in the short-term Apple has made it more difficult for Android to get to market by limiting one of the key channels for Android, the device market. Anybody that uses Android has a target on their back. Apple is trying to kill Google. 


Requirements are Changing in Field Mobility

VDC Research recently published Strategic Insights 2012: Field Mobility Solutions Report as part of its Enterprise Mobility Vertical & Applications Markets Research Service. Some key findings from this research include:

Hardware requirements are changing in field mobility organizations - Both field service and field sales organizations are looking to deploy tablets as a result of the real estate that they can get from the large display size. While the notebooks used to dominate these markets (in terms of rugged large from factor devices), the portability element is making tablets a much viable choice. The trend with equipping mobile workers with multiple devices continue to receive traction. The demand for having a mobile device at the point of interaction with the customer in addition to an in-vehicle solution is on the rise.

Rugged value proposition is being re-evaluated - With the increaseing availability of user friendly devices that have touchscreen and broad app ecosystems, the value proposition of ruggedized solutions need to be redefined. While rugged form factor will continue to be used for some mission-critical workflows, BYOD trend has made its way into this market. End user requirements are changing the applications and mobile platforms are becoming more important than ever. Many rugged mobile device vendors as well as field mobility organizations are adopting multiple OS strategies where they are introducing or deploying Android-based devices.

Customer engagement is becoming a key differentiator - As they evaluate/ deploy enterprise mobility solutions, field mobility organizations are looking to gain improvements in customer service in addition to improvements in workforce productivity. Cross and up selling capabilities and improvements in first-time fix rates are critical for field sales and field service organizations respectively. Thus, client facing applications are receiving traction as these organizations are looking to gain higher customer retention rates.

Growth in Rugged Tablet Market Trying to Make Up for the Loss in Others

VDC Research recently published its Q2 2012 Rugged Mobile Quarterly Shipments Report, supplementing its Enterprise & Government Mobility Hardware Research Service. Some key findings from this report include:

  • The market for rugged large form factors had double-digit growth in Q2 2012 (over Q2 2011). The growth in the rugged tablet market was the primary contributor as the market for rugged notebooks and forklift mounted computers both contracted.
  • Rugged notebook market experienced the greatest drop among large form factors. Vendors are positioning themselves to better serve the commercial segments as a result of the cuts in government spending. Shifting focus to commercial markets is not as easy as it may seem, given the historic ties the majority of the rugged notebook vendors have with the public sector.
  • Rugged tablet market is taking a boost from the overall demand for the media tablets. The market grew by 30.1% over the year-ago-quarter, experiencing double-digit growth across all regions. Rugged forklift mounted computer market contracted by 9.1% (over Q2 2011) as the only growth came from the Asia-Pacific region while the Americas region shrank by 14.1%.
  • Rugged handheld market was flat in Q2 2012, achieving a YoY growth of 1.8%. The economic uncertainty in the EMEA region was a key contributor to this outcome, as well as the fierce competition that this market is facing from lower cost solutions such as the smartphones.

Q2 shipments


Multiple Paths Have Emerged to Secure Mobile Apps

We all love our mobile devices. They (many of us now have two — usually a smartphone and tablet — some of us [like my wife] have a COPE [corporate owned personally enabled] smartphone, and a personal smartphone and tablet) are inevitably never more than a few inches aways from us — this of course means that they are with us both at home and at work.

The Way in Which we Work is Changing

While today's workforce is changing, and our employers are increasingly providing us with powerful tools that bring reliable access to corporate data and the ability to collaborate with co-workers remotely — a large portion of our workforce (the clear majority) still commutes on trains and drives to their offices. For many of us (I know that many of my firends who work in large corporations don't see this changing any time soon), this may be the case for the foreseeable future.

Sure there are forward-thinking companies like IBM, SAP, and Cisco that "eat their own dogfood", and have embraced technology, offering their employees tools to enable them to work remotely. However, it is important to point out that the aforementioned tools are largely aimed at remote application access via laptops. What has and will continue to change is the way in which we work ...

Yes, I'm Going to Talk About BYOD ...

Modern mobile platforms are the change agent — our personal devices that we bring into the workplace and carry with us everywhere we go have opened the door to productivity-enhancing scenarios that are often "customer-facing". Forward-looking companies recognize this opportunity, and will continue to increase their investments in enterprise-grade mobile applications (VDC estimates this to be a $6B market in 2012). While many businesses have started to offer COPE options and are likely to continue down the COPE path (i.e., offering employees a choice of mobile platforms)— others will put mobile policies in place that accomodate BYOD. These trends, along with a burgeoning apps ecosytem are driving both opportunities and challenges to CIOs and IT organizations that administer and manage these deployments.

Multiple Paths Have Emerged

Clearly enterprise mobility is an increasingly hot topic in the enterprise — moving forward, the single most important priority that will give companies the peace of mind to invest in the mobile enablement of their workforce, will be securing their mobile deployments. The real challenge that I see for companies moving down the mobility path is the competing approaches that have emerged — this has put a significant burden on companies who want to deploy mobile solutions, as it is causing them to have to evaluate multiple approaches and vendors. These emerging paths will increasingly be covered as part of our mobile software research here at VDC.

One method to securing mobile applications that has quickly gained traction is the "secure container" approach, where corporate data is protected (i.e., encryted and isolated). This can be evidenced not only by the funding that several startups in this space have obtained, but by the large cutomers that they are beginning to attract. While several vendors that have emerged with secure container solutions, the most visible today are: Bitzer Mobile, Good Technology, and Excitor — as would be expected, each has a different approach and value play.


Be sure to Register for an Important Webinar Discussing the Impact of BYOD on July 19th at 2PM EST

If you'd like to learn more about BYOD, and the competing paths to securing mobile applications, I welcome your participation in an important webinar I will be co-hosting with Bitzer Mobile (@bitzermobile) later this week — you can register for it by clicking here.




Mobile Payment Market Welcomes Swiff

As the market gets flooded by mobile payment solution providers in the recent years, the receptivity for accepting mobile payments has increased. Based on our end-user research, 37.1% of the retailers claimed that they are either using or currently evaluating mobile payment/ POS solutions. While the interest for more consumer-oriented solutions such as location based services is higher, the security and compliance requirements for mobile payment solutions are a lot more complicated.

PayPal recently introduced PayPal Here in the past couple of weeks and is now a strong competitor to Square-like solutions that have been emerging. Last week, the market welcomed another entrant, this time an Asia-based solution, Swiff. The company offers secured mobile payment with its mobile card reader dongle. While the increasing competitiveness in the mobile payment market should be part of an another blog, we thought the Singapore-based Swiff was worth noting given the interesting approach they are taking.

Instead of directly targeting merchants (i.e. mostly SMBs) that are interested in accepting card-based payments, Swiff is partnering directly with banks and financial institutions. The company is not just building on the existing relationships that these organizations have with their clients, but also targets to earn their trust much more easily. So, instead of having a PayPal-like company accepting the payment from the customer and paying the merchant, Swiff is enabling banks to be the medium in accepting payments. Given the high demand for mobile banking in regions such as Latin America and Africa, as well as emerging country markets like India, we believe partnering with banks could be a good differentiator. It is also worth mentioning that the flat-rate business model that is followed by other providers like Square, PayPal and Intuit's GoPayment, that is roughly around 2.7% to 3% based on the solution provider could potentially be a better move than the varying rates applied by Swiff - which varies between 1.6% to 3%. It is interesting to see new entrants trying to distinguish themselves from the competition and we expect the mobile payment market to continue attracting such interest around the globe.


Enterprise Mobile Workers: Tracking Tomorrow's Mobility Opportunities

Today's workforce is undergoing some significant changes, and mobile workers are at the epicenter of many of them. In VDC's most recent report, we project that the mobile workforce will grow to 1.2 billion workers by 2014 - or roughly one third of today's workforce. No other workforce segment is as large or growing at the same rate. The segment spans virtually every industry and organization size.

In addition to this major workforce shift, the GEN Y/ Millenial generation, who has a very different relationship with mobile technology, is now entering the workforce. What makes this significant is that this generation is driving expectations regarding what types of mobile solutions are available from prospective employers and how they want to communicate and interact with co-workers.

To learn more, you can read our most recent research note here or tune in to The Global Mobile Workforce Quickcast.


BIG Again! NRF's 2012 BIG Show Brims With Traffic

National Retail Federation Expo 2012 took place in NYC this week and highlighted the future of retail. The attendance from solution providers including hardware, software and services providers was highly significant as well as visitors. Following a strong 2011 performance complemented by the holiday sales, the general outlook for retail remains strong, while the pace is expected to be slower than 2011. Nevertheless, NRF is projecting retail industry growth of 3.4% in 2012 to $2.5 trillion.

Members from VDC's Mobile and Wireless Practice spent Monday at the show meeting with a variety of established and emerging vendors. Some of our early impressions include:

Apple exhibits at NRF!

While Apple does not do tradeshows, based on the bevy of iOS devices on display at the show it clearly does not have to. A perhaps not so outrageous prediction of ours for 2012 was Apple's (and specifically iOS's) continued expansion into the retail market. Much of what we saw at NRF certainly confirmed this expectation. From customized sleds that convert the iTouch or iPhone into a secure mobile payment platform to sophisticated business intelligence applications designed for iPads, Apple's presence was widely felt. Secure payment solution providers such as Ingenico and VeriFone introduced their solutions targeting the iOS platform which are capable of processing both credit and debit cards, making them usable globally. While the mobile vendors typically selling into the retail segment continue to debate the Windows vs. Android scenario, Apple/ iOS - with no major push of their own - is establishing itself as a strong retail mobile platform. This only confirms another trend we are tracking in that Chief Marketing Officers are usurping power from traditional IT decision makers when it comes to which mobile solutions to deploy for highly visible and customer facing retail applications.

Are tablets right for retail?

The uptake in tablets appears to be noteworthy given that small form factor devices have traditionally dominated retail. In addition to small form factor vendors like Motorola which has been among the leading vendors in retail with their rugged handheld solutions debuting their ET1 tablet, rugged large form factor vendors such as Panasonic and Motion Computing are also going after the highly promising retail market with their recently introduced rugged tablet solutions. While tablets clearly have a role to play in retail operations - especially for customer facing applications and for solutions such as interactive displays - retailers are still evaluating the true potential of these devices. A recent survey did not perceive store associates equipped with tablets as providing superior service in comparison to those equipped with other mobile computing and communications solutions. While we expect tablets to represent a strong platform for certain retail workers and workflows, 2012 may bring more pilots and evaluations rather than large scale rollouts.

Consumer WiFi, mobile payments and mobile scanning providing more immersive retail experience

Similar to themes we have been discussing throughout 2011, customer engagement is expected to play a huge role in this move. More and more store associates are being equipped with mobile devices in order to lookup customer and product information during their interaction with customers. Most retailers we spoke with also talked about public WiFi for their shoppers to drive a more interactive experience while evaluating next generation presence applications.

Likewise, mobile payments and mobile POS solutions were in high demand during the show as many solution providers introduced their newest products. Not only answering the customer's product-related questions but also completing the transaction at that point of contact is becoming highly valuable for retailers as the traditional in-store environments which may have limited number of POS machines can result with long lines and lost revenue for these organizations. Thus, this enables the associates to not only sell the inventory in a particular store but to also order an out-of-stock product through their online/ mobile site and have it ship directly to the customer or the store based on the customers' preference. Hence, the up-sell and cross-sell opportunities that can be achieved through this interaction are very significant. Tracking how traditional retail POS vendors respond to this trend will be especially interesting as many of these have the most at stake. One interesting solution was from Wincor Nixdorf - a leading brand of traditional POS solutions. They are extending their mobile capabilities with their TP Application Suite, which provides two hardware independent modules: TPiSCAN supports all self-service solutions in the checkout area. TPiSHOP offers the possibility to implement mobile self-scanning either on retailer-owned devices or on individual smartphone of the customer.

Following a dynamic 2011, expectations for retail technology solutions - especially customer facing mobile solutions - remain robust in 2012.


Google to Compete with Dropbox

Google revamped Insync - its version of Dropbox - and made it available for public by removing registration limits. Insync has now moved past beyond beta stage and is available with its sync and file sharing capabilities. With this move, Google has become a clear competitor to Dropbox, SugerSync and Box; allowing Insync users to automatically sync, update, manage and share their files. While the main and most obvious target group appears to be the Google Docs users, Insync can also access files that are stored in your PC or Mac.

Despite the growing user base of Google Apps, Insync is targeting small businesses as well as many individuals that are not currently using a file sharing service and/or the ones that are using competing products; along with its pricing and "8x cheaper than Dropbox" marketing campaign. Dropbox is charging $120/year for 50 GB storage, while Insync is priced at $20/year for 80 GB; making it a viable alternative in today's cost conscious business world.  Even though many companies remain to be skeptical on file sharing platforms and Google Docs as a result of the security and privacy concerns, both Open Office and Google Docs; along with Dropbox and its competitors are expanding their user base. 

These products boost collaboration in today's increasingly mobile world with their easy access and permission levels (i.e. read and write or read-only). While it is too early to tell the performance, accessibility and security of Insync in comparison to other publicly available applications, the product is lacking mobile support as well as a dedicated mobile app. Considering Google's commitment to the mobile industry; mobile Insync app or the added Insync functionality to the company's current mobile apps would land on the app stores shortly. If the company is able to achieve the seamless integration with its Google Docs apps and provides support for any mobile device, Insync and Google Docs could be a very powerful productivity suite.


Can the FDA Regulate Mobile Device/ Applications Without Stiffling Innovation and R&D Spend?

The increasing number of smartphones and media tablets deployed to the health care environments, has resulted in an influx of mobile apps targeted for patients and health care professionals. While the success of Apple's iPad is the main driver for tablet deployments in the industry, multiple mobile OSes for smartphones and tablets have also flooded the market. Based on our end-user study that we fielded in 2011, 36.9% of health care respondents stated that their organization has evaluated and decided to deploy media tablets, with an additional 42.3% planning to evaluate. As a result of the rapid mobile device proliferation occuring in the health care industry, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently proposed a draft guidance to regulate mobile medical apps. With this proposal, the FDA sought to solicit input on some of the mobile medical apps that may represent a potential risk to patient health in case they do not work as intended.

While the general consensus is that the FDA should be regulating some of the mobile medical apps that are specifically designed and used for diagnosis and clinical treatment purposes; the gray areas that have been identified in the proposal could cause potential disruptions in the industry. The agency encourages the technological advancements and further development of mobile medical apps that can provide health care professionals with highly valuable patient information. Hence, some of the mobile medical apps related to medical devices have already been cleared by the agency prior to the proposal. However, it remains to be seen whether the FDA can actually keep up with the latest developments in mobile technology and ensure patient safety without stiffling innovation and R&D spend.

More information on the impact of the FDA on mobile developments can be found in our Research Note that will be published in the next couple of days. In the meantime, please click here to access our most recent QuickCast  - Taking the Pulse of Mobility in Health Care.