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Posts Tagged ‘tablet’

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…)

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 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.

(more…)

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.

shutterstock_83335729

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

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…)

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.

Credit: ShutterStock.com

 

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.

 

Credit: ShutterStock.com

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.

Infographic: The Six Most Texted-About Moments Of London 2012 Olympics

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

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2012 should henceforth be known as The Mobile Games, as tablets, apps and SMS all made a huge impact on athletes and spectators alike.
(more…)

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

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | 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…)

These Are The Free & Cheap Mobile Apps Olympians Use To Get Better, Fitter

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 9, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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Like many of you I suspect, I feel two things while watching the Olympics: awe from these incomparable athletes, and inspiration to go out and play more and train harder.

I haven’t yet been able to turn that inspiration into perspiration, though. At the beginning of the summer, I tore my Achilles Tendon while playing tennis (that’s the same injury that left China’s 2004 Gold Medal hurdler Liu Xiang hopping to the finish line earlier this week). As a result, I’ve spent the last two months on crutches or on my butt.

All I’ve been able to do is obsessively read about the training regimens of Olympic athletes. In my dreams, I incorporate quick-recovery ice baths and hyperbaric oxygen chambers into my future workouts. Or I fantasize about having a world-class coach and a high-tech training center replete with high-speed cameras and motion sensors at my disposal.

Fortunately, there are also a bunch of apps whose cost (free to $10 a month) belie their value to Olympians, many of whom won gold medals with their aid.

 

Coaches for the U.S. Olympic diving team used the PowerChalk app to immediately review video in order to aid in their real-time feedback.

Diego Barbieri / Shutterstock.com

For skill-based sports – think diving, gymnastics, golf, tennis, etc. – practice makes perfect. Enter video analysis, which has evolved plenty since I was in high school and used an 8 mm camera to tape myself hitting against the tennis ball machine.

Today’s apps like SwingReader, Ubersense and Coach’s Eye let you shoot video on your smartphone or tablet, and then immediately watch your form in slow-motion or side-by-side with other practices. You can also scroll back and forth with a swipe of your finger, draw lines and compute the angle of your golf, baseball or tennis swing, and even share videos with an avid community of other pro or weekend jocks. Here’s SwingReader:

 

 

SwingReader comes in a free Lite version and paid versions ostensibly targeted at golfers and baseball players. That doesn’t stop John Geddert, head coach of the Gold Medal-winning U.S. women’s gymnastics team and personal coach of Olympian Jordyn Wieber, from using SwingReader along with Coach’s Eye, according to Reuters:

“You can see form and execution errors, legs apart or knees bent,” explained Geddert, adding that the apps helped him diagnose why a gymnast at the Olympics was not being credited for an element in a routine and make immediate adjustments.

SwingReader for golf and baseball each cost $2.99 and work on iOS devices. An HD iPad version of the golf app costs $4.99. 

Four-time Olympic sprinting medalist from Trinidad and Tobago, Ato Bolden, uses Coach’s Eye when he consults as a coach for NFL players. It “is unlike anything that’s ever existed. It allows me not just to tell a guy he had his head or hands out of place — now I can play it back instantly,” Bolden told the Mashable blog last month. “I resisted the iPad bandwagon until the new one came out and I had to have the absolute first batch, but it’s transformed the way I coach and broadcast.”

UberSense, which is owned by the same company that makes SwingReader, is used by the U.S. women’s volleyball team to review practices and games. The gold medal favorite, the U.S. women’s team is as of this writing in the semi-finals of the competition. UberSense’s web site also features testimonials from U.S. national coaches in distance running, cycling, and bobsledding. UberSense costs $4.99.

Coaches for the U.S. swimming team, which took home many handfuls of medals from London, use an underwater camera to take video footage that they review with an $0.99 iOS app called VideoPix. 

National performance advisor Russell Mark said it helps the swimmers master aspects of their technique such as their starts and turns.

Aaron Dziver, one of the coaches behind Canadian synchronized diving bronze medalists Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion, is also a fan of VideoPix.

“We can look at the actual technique we’re trying to modify in the diver and very quickly show them what they’re doing and have them try to focus on a corrected execution,” he said.

The U.S. trampoline and tumbling team used a free iOS app called Instant Replay Camera, while the coaches of the U.S. Olympic diving team uses one called PowerChalk. Diving coach Drew Johansen credits PowerChalk for being “a huge part of our synchronized teams winning medals.”

Unlike the aforementioned apps, PowerChalk comes in PC, Mac and Android versions in addition to the iPhone and iPad. Reportedly also used by major league baseball teams, Powerchalk has a free limited version and a pro version costing $10 a month. 

The Training’s The Thing

There are nearly 14,000 consumer fitness apps by one estimate – and that’s just on iOS. So there’s no shortage of fitness promising to help you build the body of an Olympian. But here are some of the ones actually used by Olympians.

TrainingPeaks bills itself as the “the ultimate training & nutrition software.” It comes in both athlete and coach editions, and lets users upload data such as heart rate and power from their workouts from nearly 100 digital devices, or type them into any Web-enabled computer, smartphone or tablet.

TrainingPeaks is used by Gwen Jorgensen, who finished 38th in the triathlon for the U.S., and Sarah Haskins, an American triathlete who competed in Beijing and just missed out on qualifying for London. 

Another app, MapMyRide, is used by U.S. Olympic cyclists to help plan practice rides and record their training logs, one U.S. national coach told Reuters. The app comes in free and $2.99 versions and runs on iPhone, Android phones and BlackBerries equipped with GPS.

To ensure that they recover from those bodybreaking workouts, some Olympians use sleep monitoring gadgets that track how much they move at night, which translates to a sleep score displayable on an Android or iOS device.  The U.S. Olympics women’s cycling team used the Zeo Sleep Manager Mobile app. As someone who’s had trouble sleeping well recently – which, ironically, may be caused by my iPhone - I’m strongly considering the Zeo.

U.S. men’s cyclists, meanwhile, were reportedly using Dexcom glucose monitors in conjunction with a mobile app to track their blood sugar levels.

Are there are any other training or fitness apps that you’ve used that you would recommend?

India’s Aakash-2: iPad Guts In A Miraculous US$21 Android Tablet

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 8, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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Inexpensive homegrown tablets - think between US$60 and $200 - abound in India, where the per-capita income, despite the fast-rising economy, remains US$3,700 per year. But the uncrowned king of inexpensive, Indian-made tablets is the Aakash tablet.

I say uncrowned because the student-designed, government-subsidized Aakash has yet to hit the market. And for awhile this year, the $35 tablet looked like it never would.

Besides poor reviews of version one of the Aakash tablet, there have been fingerpointing and legal suits flying between the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), whose students and professors designed the tablet, the Indian manufacturer, and the Canadian firm DataWind overseeing the manufacturer.

 

 

The Aakash-2 sports the same ARM chipset as the iPhone 4 and the first iPad. Not bad – just watch out for the 3-hour battery life.

 

But in an article last week, New York Times correspondent Pamposh Raina reports that the Aakash not only appears to be back on track, but is now targeted to be even less expensive and with better hardware than before.

How cheap? For Indian college students, the price of the Aakash-2 has fallen 40% to about $21 (1,132 rupees). A commercial version called the “UbiSlate” will cost between 3,499 and 4,299 rupees, or between $65 and $80.

And what will students get for $21? A 7-inch Android tablet/phone which, despite the latest upgrades, is honestly about 12-18 months behind what you’ll see on the shelves of Best Buy. That’s a relatively long time in the mobile game. But hey, at this price, who can complain?

Internally, the Aakash uses a single-core ARM Cortex-A8 running at 800 MHz, an video co-processor to provide HD video, and 256 MB of RAM. Though out of date in the dual/quad-core era, let’s not forget that the Cortex-A8 with 256 MB RAM is what powers the original iPad (though at a slightly-faster 1 GHz).

Other popular devices using the Cortex-A8 include the iPhone 4, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color, Lenovo’s IdeaPad A1, the Archos 5, and the Palm Pre (the latter four all via TI’s OMAP chipset).

The original Aakash only came with a 7-inch resistive touchscreen. Though cheaper, these require pressure from users’ fingers or styluses, and are rarely used in modern tablets.

The Aakash-2 now also comes in a glossy capacitive touchscreen version with a 800×480 resolution. According to Raina, navigation on the capacitive screen “was simple and fast, needing only a light touch,” while video was “decent quality” with “very little pixelization.”

One of the more impressive things about the Aakash-2 are its communication options. They include Wi-Fi a/b/g, a GPRS modem for which subscriptions will only cost 98 rupees per month, or less than US$2, and the ability to add a SIM card for voice phone access.

The Inevitable Tradeoffs

You’ll need the data options to get on the Web or cloud, because the Aakash-2′s internal storage (2 or 4 GB) is meager, though users can add up to 32 GB via an unspecified memory card slot.

The casing is a generic rubberized black plastic. And the operating system is out of date - Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Though it should be noted that Gingerbread still runs on 60% of Android tablets in use today. And the makers are upfront that the Aakash’s battery life is only 3 hours.

 

 

One Tablet Per Backpack.

Credit: Shutterstock

Unlike the One Laptop Per Child Project, the Aakash does not feature any sunlight-readable displays, or any other cutting-edge, MIT-developed technology. It is simply a bare-bones Android tablet delivered at a miraculous price. I plan to bug my Indian colleagues to buy one for me the next time they go back home.

Like the OLPC, which has fallen short of its initial goals and only delivered 2.4 million laptops to school children worldwide in the last 7 years, the Aakash project has had its share of problems. Hopefully, it’s moved past them – permanently.

Over the next six months, about 100,000 tablets are scheduled to be delivered to IIT, which plans to install a number of engineering and other educational Android apps.

In a country where more than 600 million people are under the age of 25, the Aakash tablet’s makers have the opportunity to bridge the digital divide for hundreds of millions of students. And perhaps even jumpstart an Indian mobile hardware industry.

University Deploying Thousands of Windows 8 Tablets Is Smart Tactics, Flawed Strategy

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 7, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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(August 15, 2012: Seton Hall’s CIO counters my argument. Read his letter here.)

Twenty miles from Manhattan, New Jersey’s Seton Hall University is offering about 2,500 students, including all incoming freshmen and junior students, the choice of either a Samsung Series 7 tablet or Samsung Series 5 ultrabook running Windows 8 Release Preview version, as well as Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phones. 

The laptops and tablets will be updated to the official RTM (Release To Manufacturing) of Windows 8 after its release on October 26.

Seton Hall is going all-in on Microsoft. It’s also using Office 365 for education for e-mail and other collaboration. While I think the school’s move has some short-term merits, I also think it unwisely bucks long-term trends because of a false assumption.

Here are the good things. Apart from Microsoft, all of the relevant vendors are within an hour’s drive of Seton Hall. The North American headquarters for Samsung and Nokia as well as AT&T’s historic headquarters are all less than 50 miles from Seton Hall’s South Orange campus (AT&T is the main systems integrator).

Samsung’s Windows 8 tablet is a great piece of hardware that also happens to cost more than twice as much as an iPad. 

Also, as a “First Wave” beta tester of Windows 8, Seton Hall is receiving “great support” from Microsoft, CIO Stephen Landry told CIO magazine. 

“We had a list of what we thought was wrong. And the patches came. That gave me comfort. And 99 percent of our issues were resolved with the Windows 8 Release Preview. It was ultimately enough of a game-changer for us on tablets.”

Seton Hall seems to have done its due dilligence. As you can see from my iPad deployment list, as well as Seton Hall’s own SHUmobile information page, it has experimented with Nokia smartphones, Amazon Kindles, iPads and Samsung Galaxy Tab Android tablets. 

From those tests and more, Seton Hall officials say they chose Windows 8 because:

1) Windows 8′s strong enterprise features, including its manageability via Active Directory and Group Policy;

2) Problems distributing apps to large groups on the iPad;

3) Apple’s lack of enterprise-wide warranties for its iPads, making the process of getting support cumbersome, according to Landry.

Bucking BYOD and Other Trends

But there are also tactical disadvantages of going Windows 8. Based on list prices, deploying 2,500 Samsung Windows 8 tablets (the lower-end one is $1,100) would cost the university about $1.5 million more than buying the same number of $499 iPads ($2.75 million versus $1.25 million). That’s a big chunk of change.

Now, Seton Hall may hope that by standardizing on Windows 8, it will be able to save money by avoiding the need to invest in new management software.

If you are a large enterprise that is married to Microsoft technologies such as Active Directory and System Center, as Seton Hall apparently is, that might be possible – but only in the short run.

Think of the overwhelming preference of consumers and enterprises, especially schools and universities, for iPads today. Apple sold 1 million iPads for educational use its most recent quarter. Or the huge popularity of Android smartphones.

While Seton Hall students will love being handed free hardware, my guess is that they will quickly tire of having to lug multiple phones or tablets around in their backpacks. And they won’t be happy if their iPhones and Google Nexus tablets are treated as second-class citizens compared to Windows devices, actively blocked or even hunted down as security risks.

Any of those moves smack of the command-and-control management style that is going out of vogue among CIOs in favor of the user-centric one that accomodates BYOD, the Consumerization of IT and other trends. Try to go that route, and a CIO risks creating an enduser revolt that would look something like this:

 

 

So if restricting devices and apps is not the way to go, what to do? Well, you’ll probably want to add multi-platform Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Enterprise App Platform (MEAP) software in order to manage and control the iPads and Android devices hitting your networks. 

In terms of features and power, most MDM and MEAP software are true peers with one-platform solutions such as System Center or RIM. This includes Android, provided the right MDM software and hardware are deployed together. 

Ultimately, my view is that Windows 8 will be a great platform and will have many fans. But it will only be ONE of several technologies that enterprises will need to manage and support in the modern age. Enforcing a single-platform mobile strategy is both quixotic and wrong.

 

Nine Steps You Can Take To Help Prevent ‘Apple Picking’ [iPhone, iPad Robberies]

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | July 31, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility,security | Comments (0)

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A broken jaw. A torn finger. Death.

Pickpockets and thieves used to be the main risk to your smartphone or tablet. But violent robbers are also targeting mobile users.

A Wall Street Journal reporter, Rolfe Winkler, recently wrote what happened after he chased some thieves who had stolen his date’s iPad:

But he had a crew backing him up that I never saw. Instead of winning back the iPad, I found myself lying on the platform bleeding, my jaw split in half.

As Winkler wrote, his story was far from unique:

Hwang Yang, a chef at the Modern in New York, was walking home from the subway in the Bronx in April when thieves shot him dead for his iPhone. They were caught after posting it on Craigslist. Outside Denver in 2010, Bill Jordan was leaving an Apple store, toting his new iPad in a bag. When a thief ripped the bag away, the strings tore off part of Mr. Jordan’s pinkie.

Here’s another sad story from Chicago in March 2011:

At rush hour on Monday, a man snatched an iPhone from a woman who was using it at Fullerton station platform in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. As he ran off, the man knocked over Sally Katona-King, 68, on her way home from her church receptionist’s job. Katona-King died yesterday after tumbling down the station stairs. Hospital officials believe that she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.

And still another one from England in February 2011:

A man was stabbed to death with a screwdriver after remonstrating with two street robbers who had stolen his iPhone, a court has been told.

This made-for-headlines trend is being called ‘apple picking‘, as robbers appear to be favoring iPhones and iPads for their brand recognition and higher street value. Though I’m sure plenty of Android devices are being stolen, especially newer wares like the Google Nexus tablet and the Samsung Galaxy S III superphone.

In New York City, there were 26,000 electronics thefts in the first 10 months of 2011, of which 81% involved mobile phones, according to the WSJ. In Washington D.C., cellphone-related robberies grew 54% between 2007 to 2011.

I think this will grow as organizations start to deploy thousands of iPads and similar devices on airplanes, in restaurants and airport waiting areas, in elementary schools, etc.

While I’ve misplaced cellphones, I’ve never had one stolen or robbed from me. And I’ve only had a single brush with violent crime, as I detail below. Still, I’ve done some research and given some thought on what you can do prevent being a victim – and mitigate the effects if it does happen.

1. Be Aware.

The beauty of mobile devices is their ability to whisk you away mentally from your immediate environs through music, video, the Web. Problem is, that also happens to make you a perfect target for a thief or robber.

I remember walking at night around the University of Minnesota campus 20 years ago with my girlfriend. We were in deep conversation about something. Suddenly, a passing bicyclist tried to grab her purse off her shoulder. We were lucky that his grip was poor – or my girlfriend was stronger than her 5’2″ frame would suggest – because he rode away prize-less.

I wouldn’t suggest testing your luck. So when you’re on the subway or walking around at night in a quiet area, turn your music down a notch. Look up from your screen. Even better, put your device in your bag or inside coat pocket. Being aware – and showing others that you are aware – could make the difference.

2. Be Unflashy.

One piece of travel advice I’ve taken to heart is to not buy fancy, matching designer luggage. That sort of luggage is much more likely to be stolen.

You also want to be inconspicuous with your mobile devices. Those white ear buds Apple included with your iPhone? Total mugger bait. Put them away in favor of some generic $8 ear buds from Target or, my personal favorite, some black foam headphones that you harvested from your 90s-era Sony Discman. They probably still work great.

To round out the experience, play your Nirvana channel on Pandora.

Similarly, those snappy magnetic covers also scream “NEW IPAD” to robbers. I protect my iPad with a homely padded leather case. It adds so much bulk to my svelte iPad it’s like putting a supermodel in a fat suit. Still, I feel comfortable no one’s going to target my tablet.

3. Get Insurance.

If you live or work in an urban area or travel a lot for work or pleasure, consider getting specialized device insurance. Telcos and traditional insurance companies offer them. The cost starts at a reasonable $5 a month, or 17 cents a day.

You may also be able to cover your mobile device through homeowner’s or renter’s insurance and their “personal articles policy” option. That reportedly costs between $15 to $40 to add.

4. Install Device Recovery Apps.

All of these apps let you track a lost or stolen device. Apple’s Find My iPhone is the standard for iOS. There are plenty of other options: Lookout Mobile and Where’s My Droid for Android, Find My Phone for Windows Phone 7, Prey and AirCover for multiple platforms.

Here’s a nice piece explaining how to use Find My iPhone. Anyone got a device recovery story with a happy ending to share?

Remember the limitations of these apps: your device must be on, can’t be wiped or reformatted, or had its SIM card taken out. Experienced thieves know this. If not, your battery will run out, too. So time is of the essence.

5. Back Up Your Device.

Monetary value is one thing, but what about all of those great photos of your friends and family that you took? The Notes you took detailing that great business idea? All of your Contacts? Those can’t be replaced.

With iCloud, it’s easy to make sure your iPhone or iPad data is backed up to within the last 24 hours (you can also manually back up data whenever you have a Wi-Fi connection).

With Android, it appears to be more about mixing and matching various free and paid servicesanyone got recommendations?

Once you’ve got Nos. 4 and 5 covered, it makes doing No. 6 much easier.

6. Choose Your Life Over Your Device.

Replacing an on-contract smartphone is about $200. The most expensive tablet costs less than $1,000 to replace. Your life is worth more than either of those amounts.

So just as you shouldn’t fight back or refuse when someone armed demands your wallet, you shouldn’t bluff or refuse when someone armed demands your iPad. Most robbery attempts don’t turn out like this.

7. Get Your Company To Install MDM Software.

That stands for Mobile Device Management software, and it’s used by your IT manager to prepare new devices, secure corporate data on them, and kill these devices if lost or stolen.

MDM software is powerful stuff, combining more powerful versions of the features from Nos. 4 and 5 – plus dozens more. Any company with even a small population of corporate-deployed or BYOD iPhones or Android devices should be running it.

As for recommendations, your company could do worse than SAP Afaria. My company’s MDM offering has been one of the top choices in the market for more than a decade.

8. Teach Your Kids.

As a father of two young boys who love mobile tech and have their own devices, it scares me to think that all of these risks apply to them, too. So besides installing device recovery apps and getting insurance, make sure you have the talk with them about being aware in public and giving up their devices without a struggle if facing a mugger. I’d advise that even if you are raising mini-Donnie Yens. Finally…

9. Help Shrivel The Market.

Buying used is good for the environment. Just make sure you aren’t mixing good with bad by buying something that “fell off the back of a truck.”

Next time you are browsing ads for Samsung Galaxy Tab tablets on Craigslist, take care to avoid ads where the tablets are suspiciously cheap, or there’s some excuse why they are missing the cable and power supply, receipt, manual, box, etc. If you do contact them, say you need all of that stuff for warranty reasons or that you’re a paperwork freak.

If their excuses for not supplying you this stuff sound fishy, don’t just stop dealing with them – call them out on your suspicions, or file a complaint with Craigslist.