Apple iPhone wins enterprise, is Microsoft relevant? – Computerworld Blogs

Fueled by the iPhone and iPad, Apple is in the enterprise — most recently becoming mobile device vendor of choice for one of Microsoft’s oldest enterprise allies, Lifetime Products.

via Apple iPhone wins enterprise, is Microsoft relevant? – Computerworld Blogs.

Another older link: Microsoft-centric shops using Apple for mobile. Microsoft v Apple for the enterprise mobile market will be a fascinating story for another couple of years, at least.

Tim Bajarin posted recently (again) about the prospect of Microsoft purchasing RIM.

I think he’s correct on most fronts: it seems like a natural fit and it probably won’t happen. However, I think Horace Dediu has persuaded me (Did Microsoft pay for the wrong Skype?) that despite the inherent advantages to both companies, such an acquisition would be less effective than Bajarin posits (also see Dediu’s Capital.bg | Nobody wants to buy RIM on this topic).

(I also wonder whether the centralized nature of RIM’s service offering has taken too many PR hits for Microsoft or anyone else to resuscitate the model.)

Another open question regarding Microsoft, Apple, et al in the enterprise: will there ever be another RIM or Microsoft in the enterprise space? Both carved out near-monopolies (RIM in mobile telephony/messaging, Microsoft in server software), and while Microsoft has managed to hang onto its hegemony, I’m inclined to think that in the mobile computing space at least there won’t be any one big winner. The consumer world is apparently happy with multiple standards, and I think the enterprise is (willingly or not) going to reflect that, both inside and among large companies.

 

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Apple MDM: traffic flow

When managing Apple iOS devices over the air, it’s important to remember two vital facts:

  • You can’t talk to the devices
  • The devices won’t (usually) proactively talk to you

This, naturally, leads to the question: how can you manage them? Enter Apple, the great intermediator.

Apple relies on its Apple Push Notification Services (APNS) to handle two distinct types of communications: “wake up” messages, and application notifications.

The latter is highly visible to users: app badge updates and other messages that are delivered via modal dialogs or the Notification Center. A third-party or enterprise in-house app must have one or more servers configured to talk to Apple to request that such notifications be delivered.

Wake up messages, however, are effectively invisible to end users, and are vital to MDM.

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Apple MDM: the basics, part 1

It’s perhaps not terribly surprising that many corporate customers of MDM (mobile device management) solutions don’t really understand how it works. The better MDM vendors provide enough information for the IT department to get the service running, but Apple is inscrutable, and in most environments everything “just works”, at least well enough to focus on other problems.

So let’s start with the basics and see where we land.

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Apple in the enterprise

The iPad has clearly made great strides with businesses of all sizes, but it’s useful to to recognize why Apple is not a great fit with the enterprise.

Predictability

It’s no secret that big companies like to know where their vendors are headed. When you’re dealing with tens of thousands of employees, technology transitions are painful and expensive.

Apple is neither predictable nor transparent, and has little compunction about pulling the rug out from under customers who are conservative about changes.

At the Fortune 200 firm where I spend a great deal of time consulting, every monitor has a VGA to DVI cable; every laptop is presumed to have a VGA port, despite the many superior digital options available for years. Apple has transitioned video out ports several times in just the past decade, and as far as I can tell has never manufactured a laptop with a VGA port. Floppy drives, optical drives, Firewire, USB, Thunderbolt…Apple has been a frequent trendsetter, both in embracing and abandoning technologies.

And good luck asking them what they’ll adopt or abandon next.

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Sign of the times

[RIM] said on Tuesday that it will launch its new Mobile Fusion device management software in the first quarter, allowing corporate IT staff to set and monitor rules for passwords, apps and software on a range of devices, including Apple’s iPad and iPhone, and smartphones using Google’s Android operating system.

via RIM to offer security features on iPhone, Androids | Reuters.

If you don’t read Asymco, I highly recommend doing so. Horace Dediu and Dirk Schmidt do an excellent job of piecing together the mobile industry numbers: sales, revenue, profit, market share, platform stickiness. Data analysis done carefully, thoughtfully, and in recognition of the limitations[*] of forecasting.

One clear trend emerging from Asymco’s analysis: RIM is in trouble. These days it’s hard to find anyone who will argue against that proposition, but when Horace first began beating the drum, it was a much more controversial assertion. Sales and profit were still growing, but the growth curves did not match the overall industry’s.

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Tech Trends and Disruptors to watch in 2012 | TechPinions

Instead, the [alternative] to the iPad that is really on their radar is Windows 8 for tablets, especially the version done for Intel processors. What they want is the ability to run Windows apps as is on a tablet even though they may actually write their own custom programs for Windows 8 and its Metro UI as well. But this is sort of comfort blanket to them and this Windows 8 tablet has many, especially hard-core Windows shops, waiting to see how good Windows 8 will be when it debuts in Oct of 2012 before making a final decision on what device/platform they will integrate into their IT programs over the next 5 years.

via Tech Trends and Disruptors to watch in 2012 | TechPinions.

Tim Bajarin captures very well what I see for the next year. From discussions with other engineers at MobileIron’s M1 conference this fall, and inferences from sales data from the analysts (disregarding their often odd spin), it’s clear that Android tablets are a non-entity in the enterprise, even in bring your own device environments. RIM hasn’t been able to make any headway with its sales pitch, despite its (admittedly waning) control over the enterprise phone market.

The iPad will see another year of dominance in the tablet space, and well beyond 2012 in the consumer arena, but companies will be sorely tempted to go with the much “safer” Microsoft solution.  Expect to see more in future posts about why Apple is still an uncomfortable fit in the enterprise.