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Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

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.

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.

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 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.



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 or tweet me at @ericylai.


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


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

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…)

Will The New Wave Of Prosumer Tablets Beat The iPad In The Enterprise?

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 20, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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(Corrected 6 PM PT, August 21, with information provided by Avaya.)

Consumer appeal has been the most important factor in the business tablet war to date. That’s because the vast majority of tablets used for work – five-sixths, by one estimate - have been brought in by workers via their employers’ Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs. It’s why the iPad has dominated.

It’s a simple equation, but it vexes the IT snobs and command-and-control traditionalists. How has this [UGH] gadget, with its va-va-va-voom looks infiltrated THEIR HOUSE so quickly?

Intellectually, they might understand that we’re in an era of increasing Consumerization of IT (CoIT), and that they need to stop thinking that they get to call all the technology shots. But old habits die hard. So as a reminder, let’s look at what happened to the 2011 wave of tablets that thought the pathway into organizations was via the IT manager, not the worker:

BlackBerry PlayBook – It came from IT favorite RIM and delivered the Canadian company’s vaunted manageability and security. But delays by RIM to deliver its trademark e-mail experience on the PlayBook (and other apps), as well as cut the price to a competitive level, has hurt the popularity of the first iteration of this device.

Cisco Cius – Another vendor well-liked by IT, Cisco’s entry featured some powerful videoconferencing, networking and security options. And its nod towards CoIT was to run the Cius on Android. But the tablet itself was homely and underpowered. And the options were pricey. Cisco stopped supporting the Cius less than a year after its launch.

Avaya Flare – With its $2,5001,999 list price tag and positioning as a “desktop video device” integrated with (Avaya) desk phones, Avaya couldn’t have expected many consumers to buy the Flare. What it probably didn’t expect was how few enterprises would. Avaya has since wised up, abandoningcontinues to offer its proprietary unified communications hardware, but I suspect the market is warmer to the Flare Experience unified communications apps (list price: $190/user) in favor of pushing Flare video apps running on iOS, Windows and (in 2013) Android.

Tablet War 2.0 – the Battlefield Shifts, Slightly

A new wave of tablets are set to hit the market and challenge the iPad in companies and other large organizations. The vendors behind them have learned their lessons: appealing to IT is not enough. They get that for the foreseeable future, there will be two channels into the enterprise – BYOD (employees buy and own) and IT (company buys and issues). To be successful, they need to cater equally to both.

At the same time, there is a growing realization that poorly-managed, overly-liberal BYOD programs can cost companies more than they save. These vendors are hoping that IT will start reasserting itself and restrict employees who wish to Bring Their Own tablets to a limited menu of IT-approved ones.

For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 released earlier this month. It follows its successful, smaller predecessor which proved that millions of people dislike touchscreen keyboards enough to go stylus. Besides being excellent for artists (and Palm Pilot nostalgists), the Note 4G also suits field workers who must accurately fill out long forms or questionnaires while on the go.

Like this guy.



For IT managers, the Samsung Note is like other recent Galaxy-class devices, running a more-manageable, secureable variant of Android through the Samsung Approved for the Enterprise (SAFE) technology. Features include on-device encryption, Cisco and Juniper VPN, Exchange ActiveSync and more. Also, it’s much easier to fix than an iPad!

SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann, who carries a Galaxy Note himself, says it’s one of the most-requested Android devices at SAP. “I see more and more internal users, especially executives, going for the Note,” he said.

Or take Hewlett-Packard, which strongly hinted last week that rumors that its coming Windows 8 tablet will be enterprise-oriented, with a stylus, enterprise dock and sunlight-viewable screen, are true. 451 Research’s Chris Hazelton believes the HP tablet could even come with an optional semi-rugged to fully-rugged keyboard.

And then there’s Microsoft, which IDC predicts will build 3 million Surface tablets running both Windows 8 and Windows RT, and other Windows 8 tablet vendors, including Asus (Tablet 600), Acer, Samsung (Series 5 & 7 Hybrid PCs), Dell (Latitude 10) and Lenovo (ThinkPad Tablet 2).

Arriving in late October, Windows 8 tablets may cost as little as $600 and $700, sport optional or integrated keyboards, be backwards compatible with existing Windows applications, and, crucially for IT pros, be compatible with Microsoft’s stack of systems management software.

Not a Return to Days of Yore

Some hope that this will be the start of Microsoft’s takeover of the tablet space, just as it slowly but eventually dominated the business PC space with Windows. Others hope this will be a re-ascendence of command-and-control IT, which favors corporate deployments and the standardization on a single platform, presumably Windows, for better management and control.

I think that ship has sailed.

Companies aren’t going to dump iPads and Android tablets wholesale. These tablets have proven their usefulness in many companies under many different conditions, from sales enablement, field service, meetings, accelerating internal processes and more. Their devices too much of a bargain ($199 Nexus vs. a $700 Windows 8 tablet?) and the platforms just too rich with apps.



Also, the growth of iPhones and Android smartphones at work continues unabated. Why would employees be content if they allowed to use iOS or Android with one kind of mobile device but banned with another? Rather than abandoning BYOD, companies will learn to use the right Mobile Device Management (MDM) software to create the right security policies and keep costs under control.

Don’t get me wrong: Windows 8 tablets will certainly appeal to many consumers and companies. But I just don’t think that most organizations will be willing to turn back the clock. Standardization is an unattainable utopia. The average enterprise already supports three or more mobile OSes.

Don’t forget that Apple is upping its enterprise game. It revealed in an SEC filing this month that it plans to incorporate fingerprint sensor technology from its recent acquisition, AuthenTec, in its products as soon as possible. Presumably, that would mean embedding fingerprint sensors for secure authentication into the iPhone and/or iPad. This could smooth in-person retail payments made using wireless NFC (Near-Field Communications) technology, as well as “be handy in large business or government agencies where security is paramount,” wrote CNET.

Apple – and Google, for that matter – also continue to open up more APIs to third-party MDM and MAM (Mobile Application Management) vendors so that they can continue to improve their security and manageability.

Bottom line: enterprises should not expect Windows 8 to herald a return to one platform uber alles (i.e. PCs AND tablets). Enterprises should expect to support iOS, Android and Windows 8 if they want to optimize worker performance – and morale.

CIO On Windows 8 Tablets: “Best Solution Currently Available”

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 16, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (1)

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My blog last week, “University Deploying Thousands of Windows 8 Tablets Is Smart Tactics, Flawed Strategy,” generated quite a bit of reader reaction. (more…)

iPads In The Enterprise Aren’t Overhyped. They’re Properly Hyped.

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 15, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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Bill Simmons, aka the Sports Guy on ESPN/Grantland, is probably my favorite writer on the planet. In the last decade, I’ve read more words by him than anyone besides myself.

There are several reasons for this. His stuff mostly appears on the Web. Like every guy I know, I stopped reading actual books around the time DSL replaced AOL. Simmons also writes incredibly long. His trademark mailbag columns, where he answers his readers’ off-kilter questions, are 10,000 words of Jack Kerouac-style-stream-of-consciousness – if Kerouac had a MacBook and grew up obsessed with 80s movies and the Red Sox.

Finally, Simmons has a gift for spinning fantastical theories that make total sense despite not being grounded in anything resembling scientific rigor, like his 16 Levels of Losing (rating the psychic pain of fans depending on the scenario) or The (Patrick) Ewing Theory (teams play better after losing a superstar).

One Simmons-ism that I find particularly applicable to tech is his notion of something being, not over-hyped, not under-hyped, but properly-hyped. It’s like the Gartner Hype Cycle, but applied to jocks, as they go from overhyped college star to underhyped, struggling young pro to properly-hyped veteran.

Take Lebron James. When he was a high school freshman with a bodybuilder’s physique, he was already overhyped. The hype only grew when James skipped college and instantly became an NBA star. By year 4, though, James began taking heat, from nitpickers who latched onto his (occasionally) poor dribbling and (relatively) weak 3-point shooting, to critics who pointed out his inability to win an NBA championship.

When he messily switched teams, gave up his Alpha Dog status to teammate Dwyane Wade, and still failed to win a championship in his first year, the naysayers seized on every opportunity to call him a choke artist, a waste of talent, a loser. By the end of that season, James was stupendously under-hyped.

Then what happened? Not only did James win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the third time, but he finally carried a team to the championship this past June. That’s the sort of season that anyone not surnamed Bird, Jordan or Bryant can only dream about. But it’s a requirement for a player with the nickname King James to live up to his billing, answer his critics, and, finally, reach the state where his achievements match the hype.

Domenic Gareri /

The iPad is the LeBron James of tech. Like LeBron, it is incredibly successful (85 million sold in 2.5 years, 70% of the tablet market) and incredibly hyped.

Only in one area could you argue that the iPad is underhyped, and that is in the enterprise. There’s no shortage of critics charging that the iPad is incapable of ‘real’ business work, that it’s not manageable and insecure, and that it will be dead meat once Windows 8/RT comes out.

For sure, some companies stumble when they blindly jump onto the iPad bandwagon. Like the enterprise that returned 40% of the 14,000 iPads earmarked for its managers because, according to a Gartner analyst, “they don’t have a clue what to do with them.”

In other organizations, the iPad has simply failed to make a dent. In the City of Minneapolis, an attempt to encourage iPad deployments and BYOD usage resulted in just 170 of its 3,600 workers using them, according to a recent article in CIO magazine headlined, “Is the iPad Over-Hyped in the Enterprise?”

Still other organizations like Seton Hall University are consciously eschewing the iPad in favor of Windows 8 tablets.

Personally, I think it’s great that stories like these are emerging and being aired publicly. No CIO would expect a unplanned ad hoc deployment to succeed. Why should iPads be any different? And if you combine super-strict BYOD policies along with super-tight budgets, as happened in Minneapolis, would you expect many workers and managers to bring/deploy iPads?

Not the Holy Grail

The critics are right: there are many things that the iPad isn’t. It isn’t the Holy Grail of mobility. It isn’t the Jesus Tablet. It’s not even a 100% laptop replacement.

But the facts are this: 94% of Fortune 500 companies are rolling out or testing iPads, according to Apple. Thousands more have deployed them. And some of these deployments are massive: 32,000 by Korea Telecom, 26,000 by the San Diego Unified School District, 18,000 by the United States Air Force, 11,000 by United Airlines, etc.

For many companies, the iPad is proving to be a useful business tool that is as easy to manage as Windows PCs and secure enough for top-tier banks. In others, it is a wedge for the next generation of technology to make its way into enterprises. It is an enabler for many companies to overcome the inertia of naysayers to experiment with scenarios where tablets can make add plenty of value (like field service, like sales, like meetings, like healthcare, like HR and general worker productivity). And it is helping companies earn real ROI today.

It’s not only possible to reconcile these opposing views and facts, but desirable that we do so. To ignore one or the other would be to over-hype or under-play the iPad. To properly hype/assess the iPad, we need to match expectations with reality, link hype to actual impact.

Want to see some more examples of companies improving their operations using apps and tablets like the iPad? Check out the infographic below created by the SAP Mobile team, which references companies like Vodafone, CSC, Asian Paints, Charite Berlin hospital, Verizon Wireless and Standard Bank of South Africa:


Apple’s iPhone Sales Were Weak Because The Chinese And Big Businesses Love It [Huh?]

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | July 25, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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Let’s keep a little perspective. Apple still sold 26 million iPhones in its fiscal Q3, up 28% year-over-year, worth $16.2 billion, up 22% year-over-year. The strongest challenger to the iPhone, Samsung’s Galaxy S III smartphone, has been sold 10 million times two months after launch, but that was after months of pent-up demand and stellar reviews.

The normally overexcitable stock market is certainly keeping its collective head. As of mid-day, Apple’s stock is only down 5% on above-average trading. You’d think after what you read on Techmeme yesterday that AAPL would look like this:

China Syndrome

Some are blaming Europe for iPhone weakness. But if you’re going to point to a region, point to China, where sales fell 28% to $5.7 billion in Q3 from $7.9 billion in Q2.

People forget that Apple hugely ramped up iPhone sales in China at the beginning of the year. It launched the iPhone 4S at Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai in January. January/February is when Chinese New Year occurs, when workers get their annual bonus (usually at least several months worth of pay) plus several weeks of vacation. It’s really the closest equivalent to Christmas, with lots of gift giving. And what better gift for a young urbanite than an iPhone?

Also, Apple officially began offering iPhones via a second carrier partner, China Mobile, at the end of Q2. With 129 million subscribers on its CDMA network, China Mobile is like the U.S.’s Verizon. As a result, its iPhone shipments in China in fiscal Q2 were up 5x year-over-year. Yes, 500%. And don’t forget that China is Apple’s second largest market in the world.

The net is that Apple’s iPhone comparables for Q3 vs. Q2 in China were impossible to match. But few analysts seemed to notice the China situation, despite Tim Cook openly talking about it.

Virtually, all of the $2.2 billion sequential revenue decline, was due to iPhone sales in Greater China and about half of that $2.2 billion is attributable to changes in the channel inventory not the underlying sell through of the iPhone.

No, let’s blame the euro crisis or the housing market or Obama/the Fed because that’s trendier.

Enterprise Savvy

For my other argument, I’m going out a little on a limb, using circumstantial evidence, albeit what I consider strong evidence.

There is no doubt that enterprises are buying up iPhones. Not being brought in by BYOD – that’s more of a tablet/iPad phenom – but being bought up by IT and deployed as a standard device, often replacing BlackBerries.

For instance, Good Technology reported today that among users of its MDM software, the iPhone dominated Android, with 62% share vs. Android’s 37% share of smartphones.


Or as Cook said:

We estimate that the number of iPhones in the Fortune 500 has more than doubled in the past year…PepsiCo has deployed thousands of iPhones with an in-house app build specifically for their field merchandisers. This app has eliminated paper reports and provides real-time information to managers, sales teams and delivery drivers.

German insurance provider ERGO has built an in-house app for iPhone that thousands of agents use to process insurance claims, which has significantly reduced paper work and improved processing time and customer satisfaction.

The good thing about enterprise deployments is that they are huge. The bad thing is that CIOs and IT managers are savvier than your average consumer (slap yourself on the back if you’re in IT). You know exactly when smartphones are introduced, and the effect of timing on refresh cycles and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). And you are plugged into the rumor mill about the iPhone 5, as evidenced by your reading this and other blogs.

It doesn’t take that many Fortune 500 CIOs to wait for the iPhone 5 to cause enterprise iPhone sales to become unfavorably “lumpy” for Apple.  If this is a significant factor, I don’t think Apple would admit to it, as it would show a crack in the façade of broad enterprise embrace of the iPhone.

Any readers working in IT who want to confirm or disconfirm that this entered into your decisionmaking about whether or not to deploy iPhones this quarter?

Still, I think the broad narrative holds true – enterprises are still embracing the iPhone. But as it becomes a significant segment for Apple, expect Apple to experience more seasonality in sales as enterprises try to time their buying and refresh cycles to gain maximum TCO.


Can You Build Mobile Apps Faster, Cheaper AND Better?

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

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During a webinar earlier this month with Gartner analyst Ian Finley and SAP Solutions President Sanjay Poonen, someone asked the question: “Is it ever possible to build apps that combine speed of delivery, robustness AND great user experience?”

This question is simply a variation on the perenniel riddle: Can I get something faster, cheaper and better? Or expressed in culinary terms: Can I have my cake AND eat it, too?

Normally, the answer would be: no effin’ way. Need an app fast? Then expect to pay top dollar for top gun programmers. Want it cheap instead? Then outsource it to some low-bidding offshore firm. Just don’t be surprised if communication problems and inexperience cause things to go awry. Want the best, richest app possible? Then plan upfront to spend lots of money and time.

In light of that, Finley’s answer is surprising: “it is possible” for companies building mobile apps to have it all.

“Building better apps that folks find engaging and compelling has a lot more to do with how you design the app, than about the technology you use,” he said. ”My favorite consumer app in the world is the ATM machine. The ATM I use looks like it has a 3270 green screen with one ‘Submit’ button. But the reason I love it is because it gets me cash and it’s not difficult to use. And that has a lot of value to me.


While I’m the last person to advocate for the return to ugly, limited WAP apps, Finley’s ATM example makes a good point: the best apps don’t have to use bleeding-edge technology and flashy features to make them great. They just work – well.

Apps only need to be rich enough to get the job done. Features and data shouldn’t be gaudily displayed for display’s sake. Rather, hide them in the background until the user calls upon them. Think of it like a BMW sedan that can hum along at 55 mph until you depress the gas and then it zooms up to 120.

But in the rush to gamify enterprise apps and fill tablet dashboards full of twiddly knobs and colorful icons, some developers are ignoring what Apple taught all of us: less is more (ironically, post-Jobs Apple seems to be forgetting this lesson, too).

Time To Think Clearly Lets You Solve Business Problems Faster

I think that’s driven by the arms race in mobile development platforms, each trying to best the other with the latest feature.

That isn’t conducive to letting you build fast, inexpensively and better – at least not all at once. Rather, instead of something that lets your devs deploy the latest trendy UI, what about something that makes connecting to deep back-end data sources easy? Or something that integrates the twin tasks of managing and deploying apps AND devices? Something that, as SAP’s Poonen put it, “can insulate you from back-end complexity” as well as the confusing, fragmented mobile device landscape.

In other words, something that lets you focus strategically on the business problem, rather than the tactical, technical minutiae? 


 Because that gives you time for clear thinking and planning, which always beats flashy-but-non-integrated technology.

This is the philosophy espoused by SAP and those behind its SAP Mobile platform. I can’t tell you exactly what our latest announcement, scheduled for July 30th, is about, except to say it is another step forward towards a unified platform that enables holistic enterprise mobility management while also offering you a menu of cutting-edge features (just not the bleeding-edge ones).

Check out this preview video, which namechecks four SAP partners involved in the coming news: Above Border, Adobe Systems (PhoneGap), Sencha Mobile and Appcelerator.

If you’re a mobile developer, architect or CTO, you can sign up for the July 30th webinar with all of details.

What Do Potential Users Think About The iPad Mini?

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | July 17, 2012 in Mobile Industry,Mobility,Sybase News | Comments (0)

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The New York Times published a piece yesterday echoing what Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, myself and others have been saying about the iPad Mini: it’s inevitable, and it’s going to do well.

The Times article didn’t allow reader comments. But my piece on ZDNet did – and boy did it attract a bunch, including pro and con arguments from consumers as well as apparent IT administrators.

Since not everyone loves to scroll through comments, I thought I’d pull out the best ones:

Small Is Beautiful

“I think that the compelling use / marketing case may be that Apple offers a ‘large phone’ that can replace a laptop for a significant number of folks who travel, so that they can carry just one device. To make this really work, Apple would need killer-good voice control (like Siri, but free of the back-end link) so this device would have practical, easy, user friendly usability via BlueTooth while it remains in one’s pocket or bag, even where there is no internet availability.” - Z2217

“I have both an iPhone and a Kindle Fire. Games and media certainly work on the phone, but they are much more enjoyable on the tablet. After owning the Fire for a while I found it almost painful to look at the small graphics on the phone. And the tablet -does- fit in some coat pockets. I think the 7″ form factor has a significant market segment for people who find both the price and size of a 10″ tablet to be prohibitive.” - RoverDaddy

Small is Bad

“A 7′ tablet is definitely easier to put in a sport cost pocket than a 10″ tablet (which is what most road warriors still wear to work). But, screen resolution is a big deal to the content creator. And, unless the device uses a stylus, fingers are just too big for detailed work – even on a 10″ screen.” - M Wagner

“The biggest reason why I would never get a 7″ tablet is overlap. For most people people who already have a smartphone (myself included), we already have the functionality of a small tablet. And the newest smartphones have very large screens, some approaching 5″. A 7″ tablet only gives you a small improvement of additional screen size with the same basic functionality. A full size tablet however allows you to do things that you simply can’t do well with a smartphone. That is real added value.” - Tigertank

“Personally, I think a 5″ wide keyboard is just too small for comfortable typing.” - Vulpinemac

Forget the iPad, Go For Surface

“Win 8 tablets are general purpose machines and applications written even in the seventies will run on it. iPad is nothing but a toy, get over it.” – owllnet

“Whether in 7 inch form, or 10 inch form, the iPad is still designed as a consumption device, and if a tablet can be designed that can be both, a consumption device, as well as a production device, then, why not get the one that gives a lot more for the money, and is already compatible with most office software already in the business.” - Adornoe

“If companies want to deploy devices that provide the most bang for the buck, and offer greater flexibility for their workforce, Microsoft is clearly in a better position… assuming the Surface tablets (or other OEM tablets) don’t completely suck.” - paddyarizona


The Bottom Line

“Most internal applications cost millions to build. Almost all of them are written for Windows or Linux. Almost none of them will run on the iPad. Almost all of them will but on Windows 8. You can cart your shiny new iPad into the office, but when the guy next to you can use the internal applications in a meeting and you can’t you’ll have little choice. Go on, ask your company to rewrite its multi-million dollar app for iOS. Unless your company is all Apple, it doesn’t make sense.” - A Gray

Still A Toy

“There are legions of IT staffs waiting for an alternative that is a legitimate component of an Enterprise ecosystem. This is most important in the Small to Medium-sized Businesses, where once you go with a tablet line, you’re stuck with it for a very, very long time. Of the two iPads we were forced to adopt, neither user is satisfied with how they integrate into an Active Directory environment. It’s a neat toy, and my mom sure loves surfacing the web on hers. But other than checking email and watching movies on a flight, the iPad is not a workstation or laptop replacement for real work.” - BowTech

Not So Fast!

“Enterprise is already buying tablets – they’re not waiting for Microsoft.” - Falkirk

“The Microsoft Surface still has many, many unknowns associated with it — starting from whether Microsoft could manufacture it at all, to whether it will actually take off. Enterprises have already experimented with Windows tablets for about a decade — it has been wasted effort so far. I believe many enterprises will be more likely investing in Android tablets, than in Windows tablets.” - danbi

It’s All About E-Mail

“I speak only for a small business of 25 employees, five of whom have struggled with integrating iPads into their business practice: poor Exchange performance; miserable MS Office file compatibility (going through QuickOffice/Docs to Go/iWorks and back to Word makes me yearn for the bad old days of round-tripping documents between Word and WordPerfect – the formatting NEVER survives); lack of a real file system for browsing network shares…need I go on? Up until now, those enterprise customers willing to give tablets a go had no choice. Come this fall, Surface and other hybrids from Asus, Acer, Samsung, Lenovo, and Dell, will finally deliver a reason to have a tablet in the enterprise.” - dksmidtx

“‘Poor Exchange performance’ I call BS. We have probably 500 users (if not more) accessing Exchange email from iOS devices. We only upgraded from Exchange 2003 to 2010 this year (Jan). The iOS devices worked perfectly against 2003 and 2010. There was some known bugs with iOS against 2003 but we never saw them.” - JeveSobs

“JeveSobs – our experience is only with an online Exchange Server, but still have syncing problems with email and appointments (given your screen name, I’ll excuse the calling of BS by an Apple fanboy).” - dksmidtx

Apple Not Enterprise-Friendly

“Apple is a consumer company and has no desire to be a enterprise partner. We’ve had dialog with them for years and they refuse to change (which I agree why should they as their making money hand over fist). This is why they will remain a niche option. Considering most corporations are moving to full BYOD so the days of large corporate liable devices are going away. Are employees prepared for this new model and understand what they will be responsible for? My guess is once given (if given) a technology stipend most employees will use it for the cheapest option to enable them to work, or just do without.” - MobileAdmin

“Sorry guys, I actual(ly) work on Enterprise Management software for one of the biggest names in the industry. We are adding MacOSX and iPad support, but mainly in limited capacity as the vast by far number of customer are Windows system. The indicators are that most will move to Windows 8 and most of the enterprises will move to Surface tablets via Win 8. By the way, we support more Android tablets and phone in the Enterprise than iPads/iPhones by far. These are real numbers folks, not just opinions. If the trend changes, we’ll add more support, but the indicators are they are not.” - gbohrn

Stop Blaming Cupertino!

“A real IT person would not care here the device came from. A real IT person can easily use a Unix variant, as opposed to a Fake IT person, that only knows Windows.” - Jumpin Jack Flash

“If the IT staff cannot do their job, which is to ensure the enterprise IT is run competently and helps the enterprise be competitive — then by all means, fire those useless people and employ knowledgeable people for the job.” – danbi

What’s The Point?

“I don’t see much benefit for Apple to release a 7 inch tablet other than gaining marketshare at the expense of
revenue. I’m not sure the enterprise is looking at the current Ipads and wishing the screen was somehow smaller as if it would make the Ipad somehow more productive in the office.” - Emacho

Don’t Believe The Hype

“Businesses are barely finding a use for tablets now as it is and having a smaller one isn’t going to change the work flow. I’ve seen people try to make up any excuse to use their tablets just because they have one. They struggle to find a use case for it in the enterprise. Because of that we told them no it won’t be connected to our network.” - Loverock Davidson

I Don’t Care About Any Of This!

“I just want my pre-ordered Google Nexus 7 to come in!” - Justthisguyyouknow



Restaurateur Bringing 7,000 iPads to Airports: “We’re Seeing 15-20% Revenue Boost”

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

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Blatstein is a former nightclub owner who got into the airport restaurant business in the mid-1990s. 

Before his company, OTG Management, made its well-publicized announcement last month to deploy 7,000 iPads in four airports in North America, Blatstein was best known for bringing celebrity chef Michael Lomonaco and his $42 New York strip steak to La Guardia Airport.

Deploying thousands of iPads to La Guardia Airport in New York, Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and the lester B. Pearson Airport in Toronto is the next step in Blatstein’s master plan to “take the airport out of airport food.”

The stand-mounted iPads, along with USB and iPad dongles for charging, will not only occupy the seats of OTG restaurants (which range from upscale French bistros like Bisoux in La Guardia to chains like Jamba Juice and Dunkin’ Donuts), but also be placed in hundreds of seats next to the actual boarding areas.

“We know that some people get nervous being away from the gates, so we’re going deep into the gatehold areas,” he said.

To gain this unprecedented access, OTG had to strike multi-million dollar deals with Delta Airlines, which controlled these seats in La Guardia and Minneapolis-St. Paul, and in Toronto with the Airport itself.

“We pay either a minimum annual guarantee or a percentage of revenues, whichever is bigger,” he said.

OTG CEO Rick Blatstein says iPads help “electricify” the vibe at his airport restaurants and boost sales up to 20% per customer.

Credit: OTG Management

Is it worth it? In an 18-month pilot at the two New York airports, OTG found customers ordering via iPad spent 15-20% more than other patrons. OTG already got between $8-10 per patron, which Blatstein says is higher than most other airport restaurant operators, and wasn’t the result of jacking up prices as airport restaurants are notorious for doing. Using iPads boosted sales between $1.20 to $2 per patron – not too shabby, though Blatstein thinks “we can push that even higher.”

Customers “are in full control. They can customize their order, easily add chicken or shrimp or some side dish,” he said. “And when they’re done, they can swipe their credit card without having to look around for their waiter or waitress.”

Translation: the iPads also sped up customer service, allowing OTG to turn crowded seats over more quickly and serve more customers – which also boosts revenues.

Preventing Stolen iPads and Sticky Screens

To order, customers use an app on the iPads that was originally developed for OTG by the Control Group. The app is now maintained by OTG’s developers in New York City, who can push out updates to Mac Mini servers hidden inside the tables on which the iPads stand, at a ratio of one Mac Mini for every six iPads. Indeed, when you add everything up, the iPads themselves only comprise a small percentage of OTG’s overall investment.

Asked about his ROI projections, Blatstein would only say that “We are very happy with the way things are going.”

Putting my skeptical hat on, I asked Blatstein whether OTG encountered problems during its 18-month pilot with iPads that were stolen, damaged or became greasy from customers’ fingers.

“Fortunately, nobody has stolen or damaged any,” claimed Blatstein of the iPads, which are connected to the same sort of tethers used in Apple Stores. While OTG restaurant servers do need to do some “extra maintainance” such as wipe down the iPad screens, they are not required to act as police and watch for thieves, he said.

 I also asked Blatstein if as a former nightclub guy, if he worried that encouraging patrons to stare at screens would kill the atmosphere of his restaurants.

“This is an issue that is near and dear to me. I was definitely worried about that,” he said. Instead, what he’s found so far is that iPads “add electricity to a room. What you see are a lot of people talking to each other. They do ‘the lean’ over to another customer to talk about something they read on an iPad, and that causes more social interaction than we had before.”

Apple itself was “very supportive” about OTG’s efforts and helped connect Blatstein’s team to some partners, he said. If the 7,000 iPad rollout is successful, OTG could roll out as many as 25,000 to 100,000 iPads over the next few years (making it the largest iPad enterprise rollout ever, see my list).

Blatstein is so loyal that he “doesn’t foresee” adding Android tablets like the Google Nexus.

Have you tried out one of OTG’s airport iPads? How was your experience?

Afraid That Training Mobile Workers Is Too Difficult? Not For These 80-Year-Old+ Computer Novices

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | July 5, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is the branch of the US Department of Agriculture that generates statistical gems such as: farmers this year have planted nearly 100 million acres of corn this year – the most in the last 75 years.


The Latest, Biggest, Baddest iPad Deployments

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

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You’d think that after 2.5 years of large-scale iPad rollouts, that it wouldn’t be newsworthy anymore.


WWDC: Five Key Features iOS 6 Will Deliver to Enterprises

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

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Without a new iPhone 5, iOS 6 became the mobile star of Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference keynote today.


$240,000 A Year For An SAP Mobile Architect? Yep, Sounds ‘Bout Right

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

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Are laid-off investment bankers taking programming classes? They should be, now that salaries for enterprise mobile developers and architects are matching and exceeding Wall Street pay scales.


Amazing Stats from Apple Q3 Earnings Prove Again We're In A Post-PC Era

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | April 25, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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Apple’s stock price could bounce around anywhere between $300 and $1,000 over the next several weeks. I really have no idea. What I am certain, though, is that Apple’s Q3 earnings results announced Wednesday show Cupertino again blazing the trail into the mobile era.


iPad and Tablet Market Forecasts for 2012 and Beyond [Charts!]

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | March 28, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (1)

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(Updated April 20, 2012) I’ve aggregated, crunched and charted the public forecasts of the tech industry’s brightest analysts to see where they think the market for iPads, Amazon Kindle Fires and other Android tablets is headed.


No, the New iPad’s Best Features Are NOT Bad for Enterprises.

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

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“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Isaac Newton’s Third Law of [Physical] Motion turns out to perfectly describe the how Tech Audiences Think.


Four Enterprise Implications of the New iPad

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | March 7, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (1)

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When the iPad 2 was announced, I wrote that Apple’s tablet would continue its enterprise invasion despite the dearth of overtly business-focused features. The same goes for the new iPad, or what I like to call in homage to Pulp Fiction, ‘Le iPad Nouveau.’