I was recently asked “What’s the one hot technology to watch in 2011?” and my response was immediate: Mobile devices without a doubt.
The explosion of new form factors for mobile computing is staggering to behold. Smartphones and tablets are changing the face of information technology. New devices are released monthly and highly anticipated by users. Owners of mobile devices fanatically scour the app stores for good deals on the highest rated apps. Services ranging from Netflix access, to CRM software, to electronic medical records (EMR) are revolutionizing how and more importantly WHERE we access and interact with our digital lives. When combined with cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) the possibilities are staggering.
Smartphones have been a challenge for the enterprise for several years now. Starting with the Blackberry and then moving through Windows Mobile, Apple ios and now Google Android, end-users are demanding mobile access to corporate resources with their personal equipment and businesses are being forced to support them. It’s not just rank and file information workers either, executives have bought in to the productivity gains to be had by delivering high-quality mobile products on the smartphone platform. And most everyone agrees… mobile is just plain fun.
Regarding tablets, some consider them just a larger form factor smartphone, but they’re only partly right. Many consider them mainly entertainment devices, but that’s only the start. Tablet computers (iPad and now Android and maybe Microsoft Windows 8 and the Playbook) are a new type of device with many of the capabilities of a full desktop or notebook computer, but that run an embedded “system on a chip.” This category of device is changing how operating systems are developed and delivered. Trying to understand how having a single-chip appliance with all of the capabilities of a desktop computer will change information technology is going to be a full time occupation for R&D analysts for the next several years.
Mobile technologies are the place to watch this year. They’re rapidly maturing after being in the marketplace for several years now. Businesses are in the process of determining how they can harness their capabilities and as we see new products come to market that take full advantage of the mobility that we’ve been granted by them there’s going to be a massive change in how people interact with their information technology systems.
For a taste of how “hot” mobile is check out the articles linked here:
1. This cnet article mentions that almost 20 BILLION apps have been downloaded from the Apple and Google marketplaces. Apple developers alone have made over $4.5 billion since the release of the Apple App Store in 2008.
2. Susan Fogerty at TechTarget wrote a great article about the surging popularity of tablets today. According to their research, tablets lead even smartphones as the mobile technology of choice for 2011. Both technologies far outstrip traditional notebook computers in their survey.
3. Gartner analyzes tablet use in the enterprise in the final link. Gartner says that tablets are neither “better laptops” nor “better smartphones” but will compliment and enhance both.
Keep your eyes on mobile technologies in 2011 and 2012 and you won’t be disappointed.
Over the last 24 months or so I’ve noticed a trend in some of my clients toward using more Apple devices. Considering the business market and Apple’s continuing penetration I guess I should have seen it coming. I have lots of users with iPhones now and while that’s annoying (because they didn’t ask me before buying them) the more disturbing issue is that they’re insisting on having Macs on their desks – to run Windows.
What’s up with this? Why are clients buying Apples to run Windows? They’re more expensive to buy. They’re definitely more expensive to support on a business network. I guess they’re more concerned with being trendy than being productive?
A friend of mine is looking for a new computer and getting advice from everyone under the sun. She’s a long time Windows user and is seriously considering purchasing a Mac. I did some research on Google using the keywords “Apple Windows Comparison“, “Mac Versus Windows” and the like. I found mostly Apple propaganda and enthusiasts and very little in the way of real-world business evaluations of the two.
So, here are some of the considerations I came up with:
- The Mac is very different than Windows. You do everything in new ways and will need to learn how to use a computer all over again.
- If you’ve never touched a computer before, learning to use a Mac may be easier than using Windows. If you’ve used Windows before its not.
- If you exchange files and interact mostly with people that use Windows, your life will be easier if you use Windows also.
- Macs don’t always run the same programs Windows does. If you have computer software you’ve been using in Windows, the Mac may or may not have a version of it. If it does, you’ll likely have to pay again for the Mac version.
- I can’t help you with a Mac, so if you get one make sure you have a Mac expert you can call. If the local Apple store offers that for free (or more likely for a charge) then that might help. If you don’t have a local Mac store then you’ll be calling their tech support.
- Macs are definitely trendier than Windows computers. (Is this really a good reason to buy a computer?)
- Macs are better for people who do graphic design and for musicians that use computers in their art. (Not so much any more, but still somewhat true…)
So, understanding that I’m going to need to deal with supporting Macs and iPhones, one of my techs is now running Windows on a Mac and using an iPhone to connect to our corporate Exchange server. I’m not happy about un-standardizing our environment, but as a service provider we always tend to be test beds anyway I guess.
By the way… iPhones cost $150/mo compared with a PDA phone (HTC Diamond Pro or Palm Pre) at Sprint for $100/mo for comparable unlimited minute/data plans. That’s another topic I think. Are iPhones really worth an additional $600/mo per year?