Thursday, September 13, 2012

iPhone 5 and the era of incremental innovation for mobile devices

The iPhone 5 arrived at last yesterday, with both a bang and a whimper.
There will absolutely be lines of expectant buyers streaming into Apple Stores come September 21.  The Apple fan boys will certainly be there.  As will those with older iPhones that are just barely hanging on.   In fact, I think I heard the phrase “my iPhone is on its last legs, but I’m holding out until the iPhone 5 comes out” freakishly often over the summer (second only to the lyrics of “Call Me Maybe”).
So, Apple’s sales will very likely be huge, even if it might be overstating things to say it will move the U.S. GDP by half a point.
But has the old Apple spoiled us?  Does the newest phone live up to their sky-high expectations?  In some quarters, including here at Framehawk, the answer seems to be no.
The screen is slightly bigger. The phone’s slightly thinner and lighter.  Siri’s smarter.  But there was no “one more thing” to blow the socks off the industry.  The big moves – the initial iPhone, the initial iPad – have been made.
Peter Badger, our CEO here at Framehawk (and author of the comments on the photo posted here), felt the iPhone 5 was a little bit of a let down.  After looking at the screen size change, his first comment was, “That’s it?”
Matt Eastwood, analyst at IDC, tapped into that feeling on Twitter: “I read more than a few live event blogs that were openly bored by today’s Apple announcement. Guess smartphones aren’t new and cool anymore.” Or maybe the problem was what he wrote later: “the bar has been set pretty high.”
Eastwood had an interesting insight in a Twitter conversation with me and Gordon Haff: “The good enough days for smartphones and tablets aren’t too far ahead of where we are now.”
To me, it feels like the iPhone 5 launch is telling us that we’ve left the realm of disruptive innovation for mobile devices.  Now it’s about smaller modifications to the form factors.  It’s about incremental innovation.
That doesn’t mean that these devices won’t continue to have profound effects on the IT market.  Tablets, driven by the iPad, are changing the way laptop makers are thinking about what goes into a laptop.  And, they are changing the way employees and IT are thinking about application access and daily productivity.
So, the iPhone 5 made a splash, but it might only represent a ripple in the grand scheme of things.  Of course, maybe this is what mainstream adoption feels like.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Does the new Amazon Kindle Fire mean the end of BYOD?

Amazon set the tablet market buzzing last week with the announcement of its new line of 7-inch and 9-inch Kindle Fires.  As with the Microsoft Surface announcement earlier in the year, the news got me thinking about the impact of these new devices on the enterprise.
The logical answer is that the more devices there are, the more different devices that consumers are going to have.  And, since iPad-toting employees have been pressuring IT to help them access enterprise resources with those devices, they are very likely to try the same thing with any device they have.
So, the more types of tablets and other mobile devices there are, the more likely that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) becomes the norm in corporations.  And IT will have to figure out a strategy to keep up.
Or maybe not.
I saw a post by Galen Gruman of InfoWorld on Friday that actually posited that exact opposite.  If the Kindle Fire is successful against the iPad at home, he suggests, it might actually decrease the likelihood that BYOD carries the day in enterprises.
Intrigued?  Here’s his logic:
The new Kindle Fire, which Galen notes is “aimed squarely at the iPad's home users,” is part of Amazon’s effort “to supplant the iTunes-centric Apple ecosystem with an Amazon-centric one.”  If the Kindle Fire picks up steam and consumers prefer that device as their “home” tablet, “that could reshape the iPad's role in business.”
And, since the Kindle Fire isn’t really enterprise-ready, the iPad would continue to fill the that role.  In fact, the iPad might become only your “work” tablet, perhaps even become company-issued devices the way PCs used to be.
The difference is this:  if people use the Kindle Fire at home and the iPad at work, the iPad is no longer that single, unified platform someone would use for both across both worlds.  Galen called this single platform “the fundamental enabler of the consumerization and BYOD phenomena.”
Given this, despite a great proliferation of new devices, the iPad would become the only corporate tablet that everyone optimizes and plans for.  Good-bye, BYOD.
Sure, these are all big “if"s, but they are (as Galen notes) “plausible enough to contemplate.”
IT would probably cheer the death of BYOD.  Ironically, IT normally prefers a situation where they have choice.  However, the BYOD scenario represents too much of a good thing – and it results in options over which they have no control at all, despite the serious security and cost concerns for the enterprise.  Choice, at least in the case of BYOD, is pricey for IT.
However, I don’t think enterprise IT should toss out those half-written BYOD policy papers quite yet.
As much as IT would love to only have to architect and plan for the iPad, I think the BYOD genie is already out of the bottle.  Now that employees realize they can choose their own tablet or mobile phone (or both) and it's just part of IT's lot in life to figure out how to make a wide range of devices productive in an enterprise environment, I don’t think there’s any going back.
Not that enterprises have BYOD completely figured out yet, but users have tasted this control thing– and they like it.  A lot.  Even the teams we are working with at large financial firms (including UBS) are certainly planning for the iPads that employees own, but also other multiple other types of devices, too.
On Twitter, Galen also noted some good news for fans of the freedom that BYOD brings: iPad/iPhone, Windows 8, and Android “all are BYOD-supporting. Maybe WinPhone8 will join in.” Kindle, Windows Phone 7, and Blackberry?  Not so much.
Either way, it looks to be a pretty heated Battle of the Network Stars (er, Ecosystems) for the home entertainment mindshare for Amazon and Apple.  Google plus Android and Microsoft are in the mix, too.
I have to say that the iPad’s monstrous marketshare and popularity make me think that Apple doesn’t have much to worry about.  For the moment, anyway.
However, the fact that this is even an interesting question in the first place is a testament to the impact of consumerization on IT.   For the first time, these battles over the home market could have very serious implications on enterprise IT investment strategies, planning, and even hiring.
No question:  that genie is definitely out of the bottle.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

UBS garners CIO 100 Award for FA Mobile iPad project with Framehawk

Congratulations are definitely in order for Framehawk customer UBS.
At CIO Magazine’s annual recognition event last week, that publication honored UBS with a 2012 CIO 100 Award for its groundbreaking FA Mobile iPad project. And we’re proud to note that Framehawk is playing a key role in that project.
The CIO 100 Awards themselves are kind of a big deal, established to “showcase the transformative power of IT-business innovation.” Tony Pizi and the project team at UBS were honored for their work designing and rolling out the project for their Wealth Management Financial Advisors.
Enabling mobility for those advisors was a big driver for the project in the first place. The short project summary on noted the importance that mobility has taken on for both the UBS financial advisors and their clients. The UBS Wealth Management business recognized that investing in a mobile platform would “help attract and retain financial advisor talent and better serve current and new clients.” People want to work for and work with companies investing in mobility.
The project is a great example of how the BYOD trend is making its mark on event the largest financial institutions. The initial release made it possible for financial advisors to “answer client questions about accounts and markets and to give paperless client presentations anytime and anywhere, using their personal iPads,” reported in the describing the project.
As for Framehawk, our software is part of the enabling platform that lets advisors access and work with their existing tools on those iPads, while maintaining the high performance and security UBS requires. also underscored the importance of the mobile user experience, something also the Framehawk Platform also helps enable.
“Navigating the platform is simpler than a traditional desktop,” said the write-up, “and all proprietary data is safe because nothing is saved on the device.”
For a bit more detail about the UBS FA Mobile project, we have a short write-up on our website.
And, of course, big kudos go to the UBS project team for the well-deserved recognition.