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How Are Techies Reacting To A $499 Microsoft Surface?

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | October 16, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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The Microsoft Surface is Redmond’s answer to the iPad, a productivity-enabled, business-leaning tablet. While initial reaction to its design and technical specs have been positive, the big question was the price. (more…)

Mobile Sessions From SAP TechEd I Plan To Watch-Virtually

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | October 12, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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I made it to my first SAP TechEd conference last year. Not this year, which is a pity, since there are over 100 sessions related to mobile.

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I may not be able to make to the Venetian/Palazzo Congress Center, but I still plan to attend TechEd virtually, watching sessions and talks via SAP’s broadcast platform.

Sessions begin at 8 AM in Las Vegas, or 7 AM Pacific Time. So if you’re in California or Washington, set your alarm clock. Or catch the replays, which should be up within a few hours.

Some of the talks and workshops in the Virtual Events Catalog have incorrect starting times or durations. Please double-check the main catalog to get the best, latest schedule.

There are many worthy technical sessions on SUP, Netweaver Portal, BusinessObjects Design Studio and Afaria, that I’d recommend for developer and IT types. They may also want to download the Developer Survival Guide for TechEd.

Here are the higher-level mobile sessions I plan to catch remotely:

Tuesday, Oct 16:

11 AM: Mobility Platform Road Map and Strategy. Get the latest overview of where the SAP Mobile Platform, including the Sybase Unwired Platform, Mobilizer and SAP Afaria, are headed. This features two ex-Sybase technical experts, CTO Jagdish Bansiya and product manager, Sami Lechner.

3 PM: Business Benefits of Mobile. In a 20 minute interview, hear the thoughts of Bill Clark, one of Gartner’s former top mobile analysts, who has just joined as SAP’s global VP for mobile strategy.

8 PM: Demo Jam. The annual showcase of the best business demo applications created by SAP, and its customers and partners. Mobile entrants include the intriguingly-named “Singularity” created by Accenture and Cooper Tire to enable instant collaboration across mobile devices, “Food Agent” by Roberto Clemente Middle School that is a mobile app that lets shoppers scan supermarket barcodes to check the origin of food items and possible contamination, and “Personas,” an SAP app to let users self-customize SAP application interfaces for better productivity on their PCs or tablets.

Wednesday, Oct 17:

12:15 PM: SAP User Interfaces – Strategy and Road Map. Improving the design and ease-of-use of applications, both its own and its partners, has never been more important for SAP. I’m eager to hear about the UI development toolkit for HTML5 from SAP.

Thursday, Oct 18:

11 AM: Avoiding Design Errors and Improving User Experience for Mobile Apps. The speaker promises to “share examples of real and already in the market applications” and how their UX/UI is or isn’t up to snuff.

2:45 PM: Developing Apps and Interfaces with Our Cloud Solutions with an On-Demand SDK. The world is moving to the cloud, and SAP is keeping apace. Werner Wolf, a solution manager at SAP, will demonstrate how to bring an iPad, Business Objects, and cloud data together.

Four Ways Apple Is Evolving Mobile App Management

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | October 10, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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When Google changed the name of Android Market to Google Play six months ago, I argued that it wasn’t the retreat from the enterprise that it looked like, but actually foreshadowed Google starting up an enterprise app store to complement its fun-focused one.

I guess I’ve spent too much time watching Microsoft do things. Redmond never met a market it didn’t want to segment. Or maybe Larry Page is really serious about focusing Google.

Either way, it increasingly looks like Apple might be the first platform vendor to introduce its own enterprise app store to pair with its wildly-popular App Store. To which, I say, hooray!

As smooth as the iOS experience is on the front end for users, it traditionally posed difficulties for IT managers, primarily in the app management side.

The issue, as Ryan Faas so ably explains, is the iTunes-based App Store’s origins as a online record store. DRM quibbles aside, this translated well for individuals buying apps with their own credit card, but not so well for big companies.

For example: say an employee wants to get a mobile CRM app for iPad that his company requires. The employee can go ahead and buy it and claim it on expenses. But then that app is personally owned by the employee through his iTunes account if he leaves.

This is why large companies strongly prefer to buy hundreds or thousands of apps at a time via a volume software license that is paid for via purchase order, not credit card.

Apple has taken four major steps in the past 18 months to better accommodate partners, or let its mobile app management (MAM) software partners do so.

1) The first workaround was the Volume Purchase Program. Introduced in 2011, the VPP enabled companies can buy a large set of App Store redemption codes that it can distribute to employees, like gift cards, to buy apps. That gets around the headache of credit cards and employee expenses.

Still VPP is not a true volume software license. Apps are still owned by the employee via his/her iTunes account, not by the company. Even if an employee’s device is owned by the company, the apps are not.

2) Building upon the VPP was the release earlier this spring of the Apple Configurator utility. The Apple Configurator augmented VPP by letting IT admins unlink apps from employee iTunes accounts and link them to the managed device. That way, if an employee leaves or a device is sent to the scrap heap, the app can be erased, and the license value applied to another app on another device. 

Apple Configurator is not hiccup-free, by any stretch. It only runs on Mac (the also free iPhone Configurator for Windows offers similar features). And it doesn’t enable the same level of control over BYOD devices. But it is a huge improvement.

(By the way, here’s two ways that SAP is evolving Mobile Device Management (MDM): 1) Powering Afaria with the Hana in-memory database and bringing it to the cloud; 2) Partnering with Box on mobile/cloud management and security. Read what Gartner and IDC have to say about Afaria and the convergence of MDM and MAM.)  

3) The recently-released iOS 6 works in conjunction with Apple Configurator to further empower mobile administrators. Now, IT can use Apple Configurator with third-party MDM software like SAP Afaria to pre-load apps, and later automatically reclaim those apps based on group policies. For instance, app licenses for retired devices can be returned without an administrator’s intervention.

(Apple Configurator also lets companies prevent employees from downloading ‘Erotica’ from its iBookstore. That’s a topic for another blog.)

4) Even before iOS 6, Apple had launched a custom developer program for B2B apps. For enterprise app vendors, this is huge, allowing them to forego charging for apps. This way, it can bill its enterprise customer outside of the App Store process, avoiding Apple’s customary 30% cut and the need to use a credit cards instead of purchase orders. 

Via the program, ISVs can also distribute their apps privately to customers. Enterprises are loathe to see custom apps displayed publicly for competitive and security reasons.

These are all huge steps that bring iOS more on par with the manageability of Windows.

And it could be a precursor towards Apple launching a full enterprise app store, argued Canalys analyst Tim Sheherd during a talk at AppsWorld Europe last week.

Does that spell doom for third-party enterprise app stores such as the SAP Store for Mobile Apps, or internally-managed enterprise app stores? Not at all. 

It all comes down to diversity. Most ISVs build apps for multiple platforms. Companies will want to go to a marketplace where they can comparison shop for best-of-breed apps that solve their particular business problem, no matter if it runs on iOS or Android or BlackBerry or Windows 8. Indeed, apps should drive device selection, not the other way around.  

That’s where an SAP Store for Mobile Apps, which has apps for 3 out of 4 of those platforms today, both from SAP and its ecosystem of partners, would still beat an iOS-only enterprise app store.

Also, most companies will have multiple platforms inside their business. My employer, SAP, for instance, supports RIM, iOS, Android for its workers. That’s 3 platforms. Does it want to have employees going to 3 different platform-run app stores, as well as the ISV-operated ones like the SAP Store?

No, the better experience for employees – and admins – is a single internal enterprise app store managed by its MDM/MAM tool that offers one place for workers to download the apps available to them (based on role, geography, device, etc.).

My guess is that MAM-run enterprise app stores will become the primary front-end for most workers. These internal app stores will aggregate and curate all of the various app stores, whether enterprise or not.

An Apple-run enterprise app store will be great, as will be a Google one when it arrives. But either or both will just be one of several app stores that large enterprises will need to oversee. And that’s what MAM software will do for you.

Gallery: Seventeen Supersized Windows 8 And Android Tablets

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | October 4, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (3)

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As Apple apparently prepares to go small with the iPad Mini, every other tablet maker is going large, bringing out tablets that dwarf the 9.7-inch iPad. All can render web sites, maps and business dashboards gorgeously, without taxing the arm strength of the user (well, in most cases). (more…)

How Brick-And-Mortar Retailers Can Beat ‘Showrooming’ And Amazon.com

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | October 1, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Finance and Banking,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (1)

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Traditional retailing, at least in the U.S., is in a funk. Of the 100 largest U.S.-based retailers according to STORES magazine, only 17 are growing in the double digits. Fast risers are either growing overseas or are in hot categories like mobile phones (Verizon Wireless and AT&T) or discount goods (Dollar General). 

(more…)

Parents Need Mobile Device Management, Too

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | September 28, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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September is coming to a close, and so will the spate of back-to-school/child-oriented blog posts from me (I promise). Just…after my coming review of the Fuhu Nabi tablet. And – D’oh! – this post:  (more…)

Why Text Messaging Still Thrives Despite Smartphones, Twitter and WhatsApp

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | September 26, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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The tech industry attracts the worst kind of futurists, Clayton Christensen-quoting types who behold shifting paradigms, looming inflection points and disruptive innovations everywhere they look. (more…)

How Quickly Can Enterprises Deploy iPhone 5 And iOS 6?

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | September 24, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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How long did it take for your company to upgrade to Windows 7 after it became available in July 2009? Months? Years? Still hasn’t happened?

Even the latter wouldn’t be surprising. According to Net Applications, Windows 7 only overtook Windows XP in popularity last month. That’s more than three years after its release.

This sort of lag would never happen in mobile. In the post-PC era, companies are upgrading to new devices and operating system versions within months or weeks.

Take my employer, SAP. On its first day of availability last Friday, SAP’s Global IT team already had 20 iPhone 5s in possession that it was putting through their paces.

“I already have one in hand, and I have to say, it’s very nicely done, pretty cool to look at,” said SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann in an interview that day.

If everything goes as expected, Bussmann hopes to make the iPhone 5 available to employees within 2 weeks, or by early October.

How about iOS 6? That new version should be available to SAP workers even sooner, with targeted availability this Tuesday September 25, or just one week after its official release. 

How is SAP able to test and certify iOS 6 so fast? “We were part of the iOS 6 beta program, so we did a lot in advance, knowing that expectations from workers would be pretty high and there would be a lot of pressure on our engineering team,” Bussmann said. “Hype on the consumer side always translates into demand on the corporate side.”

SAP may be faster than other companies, but it’s not alone in its plans to embrace iPhone 5 and iOS 6. It’s confirmation that the two new Apple releases deliver features that CIOS care about: LTE, better camera and microphone and improved MDM features (such as the Authorized Mode and Guided Access features that preload apps and restrict users to use only them (like a point-of-sale app for a retail kiosk, or a classroom app for students).

SAP, by the way, now manages 18,000 iPads, 18,000 BlackBerries, 13,000 iPhones and 2,000 Samsung devices, according to Bussmann. Its total of BYOD devices is up to 4,000 – more than double over the summer, which Bussmann attributed to the addition of devices owned by the now-integrated Sybase employees.

What about other devices?

As much as SAP employees love their iOS devices, they also love Android. So SAP is expanding its support. At the end of August, Samsung Android devices were cleared to become available to employees, both as corporate-owned devices, as well as BYOD.

To enable Android BYOD, SAP is testing an Android MDM app called Divide By Enterproid. The software creates a virtual sandbox for all corporate data and e-mail within the employee’s personal device. Bussmann says the software is both technically promising and surprisingly inexpensive.

As for Windows 8, SAP has been testing convertible laptop/tablets from Fujitsu and Samsung for the past month, said Bussmann. The devices hold a lot of promise for workers to replace their existing tablets and laptops with a single piece of hardware, he said.

*****

Last week, SAP launched a Mobility Design Center in its Palo Alto office. This group is focused on quickly customizing business apps for enterprises, especially creating highly-usable, consumer-grade interfaces that will satisfy workers and end users. Learn more here.

American Airlines Now Up To 23,000 Samsung Galaxy Tablets

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | September 19, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (2)

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American Airlines is rolling out 17,000 Samsung Galaxy Note mini tablets (or phablets, if you must) to its flight attendants to improve and personalize its customer service. (more…)

This Is The Biggest Competitor To The iPad In The Hot Education Market

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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CurriculumLoft is the maker of the Kuno, perhaps the most successful Android challenger to date against the iPad in K-12 schools.

That’s right – this family-owned Indianapolis, Indiana firm has succeeded against mighty Apple with its $375 tablet where Google, Samsung and Amazon have so far failed.

It’s particularly impressive because among educators, Apple has the same cachet that IBM once owned in the enterprise. If no corporate CIO used to get fired for buying Big Blue, then few school principals or district CIOs get overly grilled for choosing iPads over other tablets.

 

1,000 Wawasee High School students in Indiana are using the Kuno.

Credit: CurriculumLoft

Yet, here you have San Felipe Del Rio District in Texas deploying 1,600 Kuno tablets instead of iPads, Wise County Public Schools (Virginia) rolling out 600 Kunos, and William M. Bass Elementary (Virginia) and Morton District (Illinois) both using about 100 Kunos in their classes.

The Kuno’s biggest fans are in the Midwest, with Martin Elementary School in suburban Chicago rolling out 1,200 Kunos, Cardinal High School in Iowa (530 Kunos),  and, of course, Indiana, where Wawasee High School and Beech Grove City Schools have each rolled out more than 1,000 Kunos, and Crothersville HS has deployed 600.

“This month alone, we’re implementing 12,000 Kunos,” said JR Gayman, CEO of CurriculumLoft.

Gayman declined to say how many Kunos total are in use today. Asked if it was in the six figures: “I think the number would surprise people,” he said.

That the Kuno – the name combines K (for K-12) and the Spanish number for one, ‘Uno’, to signify one-to-one student:tablet deployments – is around today is a result of luck and entrepreneurial spirit.

CurriculumLoft is a spinoff of CIM Technology Solutions, which was founded in 1983 by JR’s parents as an installer of slide projecters and other 80s-era audio-visual equipment to schools. Even today, the Web site www.CIMtechsolutions.com automatically redirects to CIMav.com. 

About 3 years ago, Indiana became one of the first states to allow schools to take taxpayer money earmarked for textbooks and use it on digital technology.

Gayman, who had worked as a developer in the Bay Area during the tail end of the dot-com era before rejoining the family firm, spotted an opportunity.

“We could see that the funding that was going toward smartboards and projectors would start moving to tablets and e-books,” Gayman said.

The latest 10″ Kuno 3 tablet runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

The company dipped its toe by first building a cloud platform for teachers to store and share their e-books and  teaching materials. Think of it as DropBox but geared for K-12 teachers. That software morphed into a matching set of applications – the CurriculumLoft Cloud digital repository and the CurriculumLoft Explore 1:1, which manages the synchronization of content onto students’ devices, whether it be Kuno, iPad or PC.

Indeed, many schools are using the CurriculumLoft software without the Kuno, said Gayman, citing one school district an hour north of Indianapolis that is deploying it onto 1,800 student laptops today.

Building a Better Android

By late 2010, CIM also decided to jump into building its own tablet, spurred on by the iPad’s success and the then-high price of Android entrants.

 

For about a year, Gayman and CurriculumLoft vice-president Josh Whitis went to China to find and then oversee the manufacture of the Kuno. Released in the fall of 2011, the Kuno was similar physically to other Android tablets.

What distinguished it was the software. Not just the CurriculumLoft apps, but also the content filtering built at the Android kernel level that enables schools to comply with governmental rules around childrens’ exposure to the Internet.

“Other solutions, especially for consumers, tend to be at the Web browser level. We can filter content at the app level, not just the browser,” Whitis said.

The Kuno also includes a number of Mobile Device Management (MDM) features, albeit tailored by CIM for the school environment. So students aren’t able to easily install or delete apps. Kunos and their content can be logged and tracked by teachers or tech administrators using Active Directory/LDAP. They can also be remotely wiped if the tablets are lost or stolen.

(Speaking of MDM, SAP Afaria now supports the latest iOS 6 features.)

The total solution, including Kuno tablet, rugged aluminum keyboard, and CurriculumLoft Cloud and Explore 1:1, brings the total cost into the $500s. That’s more than an entry-level iPad, but it’s also a turnkey solution that many schools have found attractive.

“You can’t get that with an iPad”

“We’ve literally had some school districts deploy over 3,000 devices without adding a single IT person,” Gayman added. “It’s why we’re getting the buy-in that we have, as we simplify the IT support and address the needs of every stakeholder.”

CurriculumLoft CEO JR Gayman (left) and vice-president Josh Whitis traveled to China for a year while designing the first Kuno.

 

Credit: CurriculumLoft

“We have a complete mobile learning solution for education. You can’t get that with an iPad,” added Whitis. The iPad “is a great product, but it can be hard to manage. We’ve had several schools that were in the adoption process for iPad, that changed direction because of us.” 

According to Gayman, the iPad isn’t even the Kuno’s biggest competitor. “Lenovo is who we see the most,” he said.

“The use of the Kuno was not a hard transition for the students to make at all,” wrote Drew Markel, assistant principal for Crothersville Community Schools in Crothersville, Indiana, which deployed 550 Kunos, last year. “We want our students marketable in today’s workplace.”

Here are some anonymous student comments from a Kuno pilot in Georgia. Check out CurriculumLoft’s YouTube channel to see other educator testimonials.

The biggest problem with the Kuno in its first year appears to have been the high breakage rate, which Gayman blamed on an inadequately-ruggedized case. To fix that, the latest version of the Kuno comes standard with an aluminum back, thick interior padding, and a plastic molded case that includes a cover to protect against pencils and other sharp objects. 

With the re-engineered Kuno, the breakage rate so far is under 1%, Gayman said. 

Gayman also touts the Kuno’s battery that can be recharged 1,000 times, giving it a lifespan of 3-4 years – a key point for cash-strapped schools.

But is that lifecycle realistic considering the Kuno’s single-core ARM chip? Especially when there are quad-core, Tegra 3-based kids’ tablets like the Nabi, or dual-core Android education tablets like the Kineo that also boast curriculum and management software?

Gayman says that no schools have complained. “Our goal is to maintain a cheap price point with a single-core model that is durable and sustainable,” he said.

And, he says, the Kuno is doing so well that CurriculumLoft is planning to release a version tailored for healthcare and corporate verticals. Ironically, CurriculumLoft is not planning to create a Kuno tailored for universities. “We’ve found that it is a very different market,” Gayman said.

CurriculumLoft’s expansion could be jumping the gun. Some educational tech experts think that growth in the K-12 market will come, as in the enterprise, from BYOD, rather than school-funded deployments. That will put the Kuno at a disadvantage vs. $199 consumer tablets like the Google Nexus and the Amazon Kindle Fire, said Corey Thompson, CEO of Naiku, Inc., an educational software firm.

“I think the challenge for these specialized tablets will be to find the schools that are willing to pay a premium in order to have some additional support in addition to already paying for the devices themselves,” he said.

Gayman is undaunted. The company has spread its bets, such that if specialized tablets like the Kuno go out of favor, CurriculumLoft can still offer its software for whatever device – smartphone, tablet, PC – schools go with.
 
“Our goal is to be platform-agnostic,” he said. “The future may look very different.”
 

Do you think the future for Android tablets in education will be solutions like the Kuno or consumer-y tablets like the Nexus?

Four Reasons Why Enterprise Mobile Rollouts Can Fail – Or Fail To Launch

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | September 17, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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Schools can stumble and fail while going mobile for four reasons, I discovered earlier this month while reporting on all of the latest tablet rollouts this back-to-school season.

That made me wonder: what are the reasons why enterprises stumble or fail at their mobile rollouts?

Coincidentally, several days later, I happened to be a guest on the business technology radio show, In the Cloud with Gamechangers, hosted by Bonnie D. Graham (and, full disclosure, sponsored by SAP).

Other guests included Sheryl Kingstone, director of mobile and CRM research for analyst firm, the Yankee Group, Blake McLaughlin, an associate consulting partner at IBM and the lead for its SAP mobile practice, and Matthew H. Schwartz, IBM’s North American head of innovation around SAP software, including mobile.

The topic, “Mobile Moments: Opportunity or Catastrophe?” was a juicy one, and it ended up taking a turn around the biggest risks that enterprises going mobile face today. They included:

1) Brochureware. This was a dot-com term to describe Web sites so hastily and superficially built that they were no more interactive than the printed pamplets they were supposed to replace. Often, they were literally just scans of paper-based marketing materials.

Brochureware for a fake paper company. How fitting.

Credit: NBC’s TV show, The Office

History is repeating itself with mobile. “People are just taking their Web sites and mobilizing it and saying  ’Good enough,’” Kingstone said.

Just as bad dot-com era sites failed to take advantage of the Web’s interactivity, bad mobile sites and apps fail to take advantage of the real-time geolocation features of mobile devices. Or they try to jam too much information into a device’s small screen. Or they forget about the advantages and limitations of a touchscreen.

Bad mobile sites and apps disappoint your workers, customers and managers. And they’ll leave you far behind the curve of your competitors. Fortunately, they are easily corrected. 

2) Letting IT control mobile’s fate. Not so easily corrected is the bad attitude of who should be mobile’s biggest advocates.

Sure, in some organizations, the CIO is the force for pushing mobile forward. Take SAP’s Oliver Bussmann, for example.

But in organizations with a traditional, command-and-control style, CIOs and IT managers can be mobile’s biggest enemies (no surprise if you’ve seen my book, The Mobility Manifesto).

“The best ideas come from outside (IT). I see IT as almost an inhibitor,” Schwartz said. Many CIOs “have a lot of concerns around security, and how to sustain and maintain the infrastructure around mobile. Unless the line-of-business steps up to declare that they will pay for this, IT won’t go forward.”

My personal take: half or more of organizations out there are in this situation today. Fortunately, that’s changing. CIOs recognize that their role is changing, from the Department That Says No to a Partner and Enabler of the Business Side. 

3) “Paralysis by analysis.” Sometimes the caution towards mobile is spread more widely than in IT. Mobile’s very new-ness creates “many challenges” for organizations, McLaughlin said, due to the “moving parts” that touch many departments besides IT: legal, sales, operations, business processes, upper management, etc.

It’s enough to create “a lot of guesswork and paralysis by analysis,” McLaughlin said.

For Schwartz, inertia is more often the result of lack of a single champion for mobile within a company. “If I go to a company, and ask who’s in charge of mobile, either no one raises their hand or 5-6 people raises their hand,” he said.

While informal champions – think of the sales VP who evangelizes the success of the mobile CRM app for his charges – are good, companies typically need more, argues Schwartz. Companies should consider appointing Chief Mobile Officers and creating a Mobile Center of Excellence to help push mobile projects along, unify disparate deployments within various departments and offer guidance on the best way to deploy devices and apps.

4) Expecting R (Returns) without the I (investments). There are many organizations making huge investments in tablets and smartphones. Yahoo, for instance, is rolling out iPhone 5s to all 12,000 employees. 

Problem is, some organizations think it starts and ends with the devices, and, maybe, e-mail. If that’s your mindset, then you might as well have stuck with BlackBerries, then.

“Organizations are failing to put a stake in the ground and make the tough choices to move forward and build apps as quickly as they can,” McLaughlin said.

(Speaking of rapid app development, McLaughlin will present on this topic at the Enterprise Mobility 2012 conference in Las Vegas on October 30. Check him out as well as the all of the other SAP mobile experts speaking there.)

Other organizations hear the word app and are fooled into thinking that mobilizing business processes should be as quick and easy as buying something from Apple’s App Store. That’s Schwartz’s beef. Companies “think it will be fast and cheap. And mobility isn’t necessarily like that.”

For example, if you run a manufacturing plant and want to ensure uptime and save millions of dollars, a single “out of box app may not fit your needs,” he said. You will need to plan for multiple apps, and then customize then to wring out the full value.

What are the biggest reasons you’ve seen why enterprise mobile rollouts can stumble or fail?

The Five Things From Apple’s iPhone 5 Launch That CIOs Will Care About

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | September 12, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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There was a ton of news from Apple’s event today, many of which may have sounded earthshattering to those nattering away on Twitter (raises hand), but upon more reflection, are probably irrelevant to those of us in the enterprise and business worlds. (more…)

The Nine Hottest Android Tablets For Kids And Education [Pictures]

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | September 11, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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The iPad and iPod Touch have been huge hits with children and schools. But there’s a new wave of Android devices and tablets (nineten profiled here) created by vendors taking advantage of Android’s open-ness to create devices tailored specially for kids and teachers.

The Kineo Tablet is an 8-inch 1.3 GHz dual-core tablet aimed at schools that starts at $299. It comes from a company, Brainchild, that has been around in the educational space for two decades. According to Tim Kimbrell, a rep at Brainchild, it actually developed the first portable tutoring device back in 1993.


That allows the Kineo to work well with a school’s other assessment and instructional software, says Kimbrell, while offering consumer features like curated access to Google Play app store. The use of replacable Li-Ion batteries means that the Kineo can outlast other tablets, too. Brainchild says the Kineo and its predecessors have been used by hundreds of schools and districts over the years, though the company declined to reveal any names to me.

Intel StudyBook: the Classmate PC goes touchscreen

The Intel StudyBook is a 7-inch tablet that uses a power-sipping single-core Intel Atom Z650 chipset and runs either Windows or Android (Honeycomb 3.0) on top.

Credit: ZDNet

The above photo is from my ZDNet compatriot Christopher Dawson’s blog, who declared the StudyBook “what an education tablet should be.” As Monty Python would say, Pretty strong meat from Longueur. 

The StudyBook will start for less than $200, a price point aimed not at besting the iPad but at competing with the One Laptop Per Child project for the hearts and minds of, not parents, but schools, especially those in the Third World.

OLPC XO-3: One Tablet Per Child?

Speaking of the OLPC, the non-profit is introducing the XO-3, an 8-inch Android/Linux based tablet that uses an Armada 610 system-on-chip – essentially an ARM v7 chip running at 800 MHz. No speed demon, but OLPC’s hardware never is. Rather, the XO-3′s goodies are in the area of power – it can be charged via a hand crank or optional solar panel – and display – the Pixel Qi sunlight-readable screen.


The XO-3 will reportedly cost $100 when it’s available (no word on that yet) The OLPC is also working on a convertible tablet/laptop called the XO-4 Touch that may arrive before the XO-3 - Q1 2013.

Oregon Scientific MEEP: slightly upscaling the kid tablet experience

The newish MEEP tablet is from Oregon Scientific, which I know best as a maker of fancy thermometers. The Portland company is pitching the MEEP as having all of the kid-friendly touches of the LeapPad and InnoTab (ruggedized plastic case, parental controls, curated MEEP app store) but with grown-up features (Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, 7-inch screen, 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU, 512 MB RAM, streaming video to TV via HDMI slot).

Reviews of the MEEP are neutral to positive. Parents whose kids have outgrown the kiddie tablets but don’t trust them with their family iPad might find the MEEP a good deal, especially if Oregon Scientific can deliver a good, inexpensive app store. But the two tablets I’m really excited about lurk later on this slideshow.

Toys R Us Tabeo: the child counterpart of Barnes & Noble’s Nook

Another $150 tablet aimed at upscaling the child device category dominated by LeapFrog and VTech, the Tabeo is a 7-inch Android 4.0 ICS tablet. It has an impressive 4 GB of RAM and built-in Wi-Fi. More impressive is the Tabeo’s apps: included for free are Angry Birds Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope, among others, as well as access to a curated app store, which includes 7,000 free apps and thousands available for purchase.

Most impressive to me is the feature that lets parents set limits on the amount of time their kids can play the device every day or week. That’s a feature I would love to have on my iPad.

On the other hand, its 1 GHZ single-core ARM chipset and 800×480 screen are unexciting, especially compared to the Fuhi Nabi, which I describe later.

Arnova Child Pad: worth the discount?

This is another 7-inch Android 4.0 ICS tablet that predates some of the others by a few months. It was originally marketed by Archos, but now seems to have been taken over by Arnova instead.

Besides sporting a 1 GHz ARM A8 chip, 1 GB of RAM, 4 GB of storage and a capacitive touchscreen (latest version only), the Child Pad’s main merits is its $139 price tag, or $20 less than the MEEP and Tabeo.

Kurio 7: decently-reviewed veteran of the bunch

The Kurio comes from a newish company called Inspiration Works. It was introduced several months ago, and, like the MEEP, Child Pad and Tabeo, runs Android 4.0 ICS on a 1 GHz single-core ARM processor with 4 GB of storage and 7-inch screen.

Like the coming Tabeo, the $149 Kurio lets parents control how much time they kids can play, as well as filter out adult content. Reviews of the Kurio are mixed. PC Advisor lamented the quality of the Kurio’s 800-x480 screen, while PC Magazine called it a Kindle Fire for kids. The Kurio has pretty good reviews at, ironically, Toys R Us.

Coming soon: a 10-inch version of the Kurio.

Lexibook: cheap and expensive?

To be available in the US in mid-September, the Lexibook comes from a French-Hong Kong firm that has been selling its (150 pounds) $237 tablet in Europe for some time.

If Engadget is right, the specs sound awfully weak, especially for the price: 600 MHz ARM CPU, 256 MB RAM, 4 GB storage, Android 2.2 Froyo. Might as well fly to India and buy a $21 Aakash-2. Perhaps the Lexibook’s parental controls, user interface and included educational apps and games will make up for that, but I’m not optimistic.

Fuhu Nabi 2: quad-core power in $199 package

Fuhu is a Los Angeles-area VC-funded startup that has, on specs and Web marketing alone, the most exciting kid tablet out now. The just-released Nabi 2 is basically a Google Nexus 7, down to its $199 price.

The Tegra 3-based hardware spanks most of the other competitors out there. What the Nabi does come with is the obligatory orange rubber case, parental controls, and a bunch of pre-loaded games and educational apps as well as videos and songs which Wired’s reviewer (and his 4-year-old son)loved.

The consumer reviews of the first version were good; the reviews of the latest version are better. So I’m eager to get me and my kids’ hands on a Nabi 2 and see if it lives up to the hype.

Kuno: the educators’ alternative to the iPad

Tabeo, Kurio, Nabi and now the Kuno: what’s with all of the tablets that sound like sushi restaurants?  Seriously, the Kuno 3 is a 10-inch tablet running Ice Cream Sandwich on top of a 1.2 GHz ARM A8 chip, 1 GB RAM, and 16 GB of storage. And it costs about $500 to schools.

So what makes the Kuno stand out? Apparently, the CurriculumLoft software from the Indianapolis company of the same name that makes the Kuno. CurriculumLoft helps teachers manage their classrooms, and helps the school’s techies manage the Kuno tablets.

That combination has helped the Kuno get deployed by a number of districts. Martin Elementary in Illinois is rolling out 1,200 Kunos, while San Felipe Del Rio District in Texas is rolling out 1,600 Kunos. See my Google map of tablet deployments, fall 2012, to see a number of others.

I plan to interview the executives of Kuno on Thursday, Sept. 13, so if you have any questions, please tweet them to me at @ericylai or e-mail me at ericyolai@gmail.com.

Real-Time Is The Wrong Reason For Your Enterprise To Go Mobile

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | September 10, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (1)

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First, it was the Scandinavian-style Smorgasbord. Later, it was Old Country Buffet.

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Four Reasons Why School Tablet Rollouts Can Stumble – Or Fail

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | September 4, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Finance and Banking,Mobile Industry | Comments (0)

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Nothing’s perfect. In creating my map of the 120+ back-to-school iPad and tablet deployments this fall, I learned a few things about what can cause trouble for schools and students. These are good lessons for businesses and other types of organizations thinking about going mobile.

(Check out my list of the 100 Largest iPad Rollouts, which with my recent research has become very school-heavy).

1) Deploying iPads – and then doing nothing else. My colleague John Fontana – he writes the ZDNet blog on privacy technology, Identity Matters - is stridently unimpressed by the iPad deployments at his son’s high school. 

“They talked about cutting edge, digital natives, blah, blah, blah. But their digital collaboration thinking was so old school,” he commented on my blog. “When they mentioned email and phone calls, I knew I was in trouble. My son last sent an email three years ago and last month he burned a whopping 120 seconds in cell [voice] time.”

“Anyway, no text books, no apps, no home work, no digital assignments happened on the iPad all year,” he continued. “The thing that did happen was distracting internet surfing and game playing. The iPad experiment was never a discussion topic when I went to parent teacher conferences. I asked about it and was always answered with a grin and a shoulder shrug.”

There are multiple sins here: an old-fashioned mindset, a lack of integration into the curriculum and evidently no training for the teachers.

On curriculum, your school doesn’t need to adopt e-textbooks from the big publishers. The selection of educational apps and eBooks from alternate publishers is huge.

You can even create your own e-textbooks. Providence Academy, a Catholic K-12 school in Plymouth, Minnesota, did. The teachers developed their own iBooks and lesson plans around literary classics like MacBeth, according to Mark Strobel, director of marketing for Providence eLearning, a spinoff of the school that is marketing the iBooks to other schools.

2) Failing to secure these shiny, portable objects from theft or damage. At Phillipsburg High School in Kansas, 150 iPads were stolen in August one week before classes were to begin.

Or the culprit can be an insider. At Pinellas County (Florida), a middle school teacher was charged with taking an iPad from school and trading it in at a Best Buy, thus ruining her career for a measly $145.

Or take Zeeland High School in Michigan, which had deployed 1,800 iPads the prior year:

While staff predicted 10 to 15 percent of the iPads would need repairs, approximately 15 to 25 percent of the tablet computers were damaged…Austin Bollinger was a graduate who was unhappy with a $140 bill. He thought the district should have invested in a more durable device such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab and had a more reasonable fee structure.

Bollinger, who started an online petition to get rid of the iPads at the school, said the district didn’t have a good educational plan in place for utilizing the iPads.

Bollinger’s costly mistake was that he opted out of a $53 insurance policy offered by Zeeland. About 40% of the students bought the $53 insurance.

Insurance has become a requirement at many schools that are deploying iPads this year. Many of the policies are less expensive than the one Zeeland used. 

At Manchester Area Schools, also in Michigan, insurance costs just $35 per year. And the insurance policy that Phillipsburg had on its stolen iPads is helping pay for their replacement. 

That seems reasonable to me. At my kids’ school, the parent-teacher association pretty much expects we donate several hundred dollars per student for classroom supplies, not including technology.

Besides insurance, many schools like Arlington High School in Massachusetts, are using lockable carts to secure and recharge iPads overnight.

Schools are also minimizing the pain of lost, stolen or damaged iPads by leasing them instead, as E.D. White and Vandebilt High Schools (Louisiana) did. Leases often include provisions to replace a certain percentage of broken or lost iPads. And the leasing company can also help manage and track down stolen or lost iPads.

3) Ignoring the importance of the network. In the West Linn-Wilsonville school district in Portland, Oregon area, one middle school class deployed Samsung Galaxy Tabs last year. According to Marie Bjerede and Tzaddi Bondi, and authors of the recent report, Learning is Personal, the students using the Galaxy Tabs found that connecting to the school’s public Wi-Fi network was a lengthy process that they had to repeat multiple times a day. The network was so poor that many students couldn’t connect “even when right next to a router.”

The IT department eventually granted the tablets access to the private Wi-Fi network, which helped fix many of the problems. 

In anticipation of such potential network issues,  many schools are doing major campus Wi-Fi network upgrades before they deploy any tablets. This is something about which Cisco has beaten the drum, and the networking vendor may be right.

4) Choosing an immature platform. According to Bjerede and Bondi, they had chosen the Samsung Android tablets in 2011 because they hoped to find a less expensive, more open alternative to iOS upon which to base a future larger rollout.

That didn’t prove to be the case, they wrote: 

Although we found a number of advantages to using the Android devices that paralleled the features found in iOS devices, the fragmentation of the Android ecosystem combined with its relative immaturity means a higher degree of technical issues are likely to be encountered with no reliable way to address them yet…In our case, when we had unexplained instabilities in the population of Galaxy Tablets, we wanted to update Android to the most recent version to see if it would help. Only then did we learn Samsung had chosen not to support newer versions of the OS on our device model. 

This is obviously a politically-charged issue. My POV is that such criticisms of Android are much less valid today than 12 months ago. Android is much more polished and manageable than before. Google is slowing down its formerly-frenetic update schedule for Android. And Samsung has told me that it plans to stay much more current on releasing Android updates for products already in customers’ hands. 

Moreover, there is an educational Android tablet called the Kuno from a company in Indianapolis, IN designed to provide a turnkey solution for schools. Though the 10-inch Kuno costs $500 apiece like the iPad, it is integrated with device management AND learning management software developed by the company. 

“CurriculumLoft will actually deliver content right to the tablets. Teachers will be able to use CurriculumLoft to deliver that content based on their grades, whatever teacher it is, they just send it out to that student,” the IT director for the Cardinal Community School District in Iowa told a local newspaper.

The Kuno is being deployed by schools in VirginiaIllinoisIowa and Indiana

Finally, the price advantage of Android devices versus iPads is even more attractive than a year ago. I found several mentions of schools deploying $199 Amazon Kindle Fires, including San Marcos district in Texas, Whitney Elementary in Las Vegas and the Indian Land Middle School in South Carolina. I didn’t find any mentions of schools deploying $199 Google Nexus 7 this fall, though I’m sure there are many. 

Have you observed any school tablet deployments firsthand? What went right and what went wrong?

Chart: Top 100 iPad Rollouts by Enterprises & Schools (Updated Oct. 16, 2012)

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 31, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility,Sybase News | Comments (0)

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As part of my research mapping the largest iPad and other tablet deployments by schools and universities, I also updated my list of the largest publicly-known iPad deployments, including companies, governmental agencies, etc.

Notable additions include Coachella Valley Unified School District, one of the poorest districts in the US, which has deployed 4,000 iPads, and may, depending on outcome of Nov. ballot, deploy another 16,000, according to Superintendent Dr. Darryl Adams.

Long Island University, one of the first large deployments on my list, will soon be up to 19,000 iPads. Conde Nast has 5,000 iPads. In Minnesota, West St. Paul has 1,550 and Minnetonka High School has at least 1,000 (thanks to Eric Simmons, director of technology at New Ulm Schools). 

There’s also Lincoln School in Costa Rica (1,464 iPads), Croswell-Lexington Schools (MI) with 1,700 iPads, East Allen County Schools (IN) with 7,780 iPads, Roche (formerly Genentech), now up to 13,070 iPads, McAllen School District in Texas (moved from 5,000 to 25,000 iPads deployed), Clinton Public Schools (now up to 1,350 iPads), Encinitas Union (upgraded to 4,500 from 3,700 iPads), Abilene Christian University (Texas), Eanes ISD (Texas), the Leeds School of Medicine and Essa Academy (UK), Hult International Business School, Ft. Bend ISD (Texas), Prince George’s County Schools (Maryland), Rochester (MN) School District, Mansfield County Schools (Texas), Vancouver & CDI Colleges, Beaufort County (GA) schools, Farmington (MN) schools, Muncie (ID) Community Schools, Encinitas Union (CA) Schools, Hopkins (MN) schools, and many, many more.

(Many thanks to my tipsters including Dr. Adams, Charles Clickner, head of technology at Lincoln School, Theo Kerhoulas, principal at Croswell-Lexington Schools, Kurt Dager in the IT department at East Allen County Schools, Paul Lanzi, Roche manager for enterprise mobile applications, George Saltsman, director of mobile learning at Abilene Christian University, Kevin Hime, superintendent, Clinton Public Schools, Mike Guerena, tech director at Encinitas Union, Jill Burdo, tech integration specialist at Ramsey Middle School (MN), Yousuf Khan, CIO of Hult Intl. Business School, Brett Belding, senior IT manager at Cisco, Thomas Burgess of Lexington School District One (SC), Cathleen Richardson of Apple, and anyone else I might have stupidly forgotten.)

Indeed, nearly 70 out of my top 100 are K-12 schools. 

Besides the new schools on the list, the major differences with this version are:

a) I’ve expanded it from 50 to 100;

b) I’ve changed the way I’ve embedded the list, hopefully making it more attractive and readable.

If you want to copy and paste the below data but are having trouble, please visit the Google Spreadsheet.

Check out my entire list of iPad deployments here, and my Android list here.

Oh, and please send any missing deployments to me via ericyolai@gmail.com or via Twitter @ericylai.

Map: Back-To-School Drives 100+ Huge iPad & Tablet Deployments

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 30, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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My kids returned to school this week. They attend a suburban elementary school built only one year ago. Everything there is beautiful and state-of-the-art – with the glaring exception of its computing technology. Not only does the school still use computer labs, but they run an outdated platform, as I discovered after quizzing my son:

Me: “Do you know what operating system the PCs in the computer lab run?”

Him: “Umm, I think it says XP when I turn them on?”

Me: “What?!? That OS was introduced two years before you were born!”

Him: “Wowwwww, that is old.”

My mind reeling, I quickly decicided I needed to: a) get involved in the PTA RIGHT AWAY; b) find out what schools are moving forward, not backward, towards tablets and e-textbooks.

Through the magic of Google, I found more than 120 schools, school districts, and colleges and universities that are deploying tablets to students for the first time this fall.

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Credit: ShutterStock.com

My list is no doubt an undercount. 1.5 million American students and 1,000 colleges worldwide use iPads (see this infographic by MDG Advertising). Meanwhile, I can only find deployments that make the news – a difficult ask since rollouts of Android tablets tend to attract much less attention from the press.

Still, I’ve done my best, and have created a map in Google for you to browse. You can zoom in and out and click on the blue points to find out more about each deployment (including iPads as well as Samsung and Amazon Kindle Fire tablets), including the original news reference or web link.

If you cannot view the embedded map below, please click on this link.

I’ve added the larger deployments – San Diego Unified, Rochester Minnesota, Mansfield County (Texas) and others – to another blog/chart listing the 100 Largest iPad Deployments Worldwide today. 

I also plan to take a closer look at some of the trends in the new school deployments in a coming blog.  

If I’ve missed any deployments, please e-mail me at ericyolai@gmail.com or tweet me at @ericylai.

 


View School iPad & Tablet Deployments, Fall 2012 in a larger map

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As part of its ongoing Mobile Insight series, SAP is holding two webcasts in September with experts who can help companies in distribution or utility industries reduce costs and boost sales. Click on the links to register:

Sept. 19th – Fuel Competitive Advantage in Wholesale Distribution Using Mobile Solutions 

Sept. 26th – Mobile Applications for Streamlining Utility Services

How Did SAP’s CIO Spend His Summer Vacation?

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 28, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility,Sybase News | Comments (0)

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Apart from a family trip to Vienna and the Croatian seaside resort of Dubrovnik, SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann and his team had a full plate this summer, especially on mobile initiatives.

Here are some of the highlights:

1) Introducing a new model for tech support. Since the beginning of the summer, SAP has opened up a slew of Mobile Solutions Centers. Its spin on the Apple Genius Bar, think of SAP’s MSC as a corporate IT helpdesk revamped for the BYOD/mobile era.

Each MSC is a friendly (not adversarial) place for workers to come and browse mobile devices and apps and get unhurried, unpatronizing technical advice.  

 

Credit: SAP

“Moving the IT organizations out of the closet has been very well-received” by employees, says Bussmann. “Giving you a place to test drive devices and apps on your way to lunch is the support model of the future.”

SAP has opened about a dozen MSCs worldwide, including in Bangalore, Mumbai, London and the US and German headquarters in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania and Walldorf. Coming this week: an MSC in Singapore. 

While this high-touch model isn’t the most economical way to provide support, Bussmann says it helps drive better employee satisfaction with IT, and other positive outcomes.

“Should workers lower their expectations [for support] when they leave the Apple Store or Microsoft Store and come to the corporate environment?” he asked.

2) Expanding access to BYOD. SAP has made massive deployments of corporate-owned iPhones and iPads. Perhaps partly as a result, its BYOD program was a late starter compared to other firms. Being a 50,000+ employee company governed by EU data privacy regulations didn’t help, either. 

SAP is making up for lost time. Beginning with granting full BYOD access to Japanese employees hit by the tsunami of 2011, SAP has opened up BYOD to workers in the rest of Asia-Pacific and the US and Canada. By the end of July, SAP had 1,600 devices in its BYOD program, whichi are all managed by SAP Afaria. Just this month (August), workers in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela became eligible for BYOD.

Only Apple devices are eligible for BYOD today. But by September, SAP workers will be able to bring in Android devices made by Samsung, Bussmann said.

The big exception is in Germany. There, employees today can only access corporate data from iPhone or iPad while using Citrix. Full connectivity is coming, though that is subject to negotiations and EU privacy laws.

3) Embracing Android, Windows 8. Since the beginning of the year, SAP has deployed 1,500 Samsung Android Galaxy devices to employees. That has accelerated this summer. 

“I see more and more users internally going for the Galaxy Note,” he said. And the new S III is “a hot device. A lot of executives are asking for that.” (Note: this interview was conducted last week before the Apple-Samsung trial was concluded.)

Bussmann’s IT team has also been testing Windows 8 tablets and laptops from Fujitsu and Samsung. He is enthusiastic about the OS, though he emphasizes that there is no chance that SAP would ever go backwards and standardize completely on Windows 8 for PC and laptop.

“We don’t want to go back to a one-model-fits-all,” he said. “From my perspective, you have to provide choice.”

4) Building and Deploying More Apps. There are more than 35 apps available to SAP employees today, some built by SAP product teams, and some built by SAP IT, such as the SAP Box enterprise cloud storage app, which has been downloaded more than 3,000 times. But IT is working hard to ready and augment many more.

These include HTML5-based apps, imbuing sales apps with more features so that salespeople can instantly generate full sales quotes using just their mobile device, and building a new unified workflow and approval inbox to make things easier for managers and others who confronted with many sales, procurement and HR approvals every day, Bussmann said.

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I’ve written before about how Mobile and Big Data are coming together in weird and wonderful ways. Here’s your opportunity to learn more. Leading industry analyst Maribel Lopez (formerly of Forrester Research) will lead an all-day seminar in the Silicon Valley on September 5th on how mobile+analytics can create “right time experiences” for your company. You can register here.

Apple Battles With Android-Centric MirrorLink For Control Of Connected Car

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 27, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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Android often gets criticized for fragmentation. But the connected car market has it beat by a mile, with literally dozens of competing telematics platforms, each with its own code and quirks for developers to wrestle with. (more…)

Gartner: Mobile Is Not The Edge, But The Center, Of Your IT Universe

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 22, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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My ZDNet blogger-in-arms John Fontana is at Gartner’s (formerly Burton Group’s) Catalyst conference in San Diego this week, and wrote up two pieces about mobile (even though he’s more of a security/privacy expert). (more…)