Tag: Apple

The future of watches

Apple watch image - copyright Apple“The future of watches” title is a bit grand for this brief post, but this is somewhat of a companion piece to The future of tablets and the context of both is the evolution of computing devices. In the case of tablets we are still figuring out their role in the ecosystem after many years and over four since the initial iPad, the first breakthrough tablet. It will also take some time, and development, to see where smartwatches fit in, but it is now a much more interesting question.

The Apple watch announcement stumped many commentators who needed extra time to digest it. A reasonable reaction given neither product nor platform are done yet. This makes it a bit difficult for technology, market, or financial analysts to answer questions like what the Apple watch is really for, whether it is a new product category, will it be another breakthrough product for Apple, how it will change the mix of Apple revenue, do I actually need or want one.

Communication has been the killer app for computing at least since the Web and is why smartphones are the current king of the hill. Smartwatches are the most likely next-in-line competition to smartphones, certainly more so than tablets or glasses, before we enter the world of implants, stick-ons, or other fashion accessory choices. Smartwatches with phone functionality could surpass smartphones as the planet’s most popular personal computer: easier to carry around, potentially cheaper.

Apple would not be investing so heavily if they didn’t expect smartwatches to overtake or at least approximate the success of smartphones. They are betting large on the watch becoming a general purpose computer in the same way the iPhone has.

Or, they are reaching even further…

It doesn’t make sense for Apple to invest much in accessories, or niche markets. Even fitness is not interesting enough in itself. However, fitness is a great way to enter into the much larger healthcare opportunity, which in turn provides an environment to learn about new user experience technology and the complex device integration and data sharing necessary for it, and other complicated applications of general purpose computing. The iPhone would also benefit. This path also has the advantage of providing cover.

Also see:

Rich ruminating… Ben Evans: Ways to think about watches.

Working through what the Apple watch is about… Ben Thompson: What I Got Wrong About Apple Watch and Why Now for Apple Watch

Compared to other smartwatches… Rachel Metz:  Is This the Smart Watch You’ve Been Looking For?

Review from a watch industry analyst… Ariel Adams: Apple Watch Hands-On: The Wristwatch Just Caught Up To The 21st Century

Mobile development strategy – platform decision update

Last April I suggested that evolving mobile platform market changes meant organizations needed to re-visit their mobile development strategy and said

“What has changed? To over simplify: Apple’s dominance continues to increase and is unassailable in tablets; RIM is not a contender; Microsoft is looking like an up-and-comer; and most surprising to many, Android is looking iffy and is a flop in tablets with the exception of the very Amazon-ized version in the Kindle Fire.”

Not surprisingly, things have changed again. Two major changes are that Samsung is now a major player, and Google has finally made progress in tablets with the Nexus 7 and the much improved Android “Jelly Bean” release. Amazon’s second Fire is also more robust. There are now real choices in tablets – personally I have an iPad, a Fire HD, and a Nexus 7, and I use all three of them, and for many purposes I just grab the closest. But businesses making a significant investment in a platform for development need to carefully evaluate its stability and staying power.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the debate among analysts over what the iOS and Android market share numbers mean – specifically, whether the larger and accelerating Android market share numbers threaten Apple’s dominance. At first glance it is natural to think that dominant market share signifies a safer bet, and indeed many analysts make this point. But it’s not so simple. Last year there was evidence that even though Android devices had a market share advantage, Apple devices accounted for much more total online activity – were used more – and it is probably safe to say that use is a requirement of product success.

More importantly, if you look at profit share, Apple continues to dominate. So the opposing view is that Apple may be the safer bet since for most values of company/product health, profit trumps revenue.

In “The Mobile Train Has Left The Windows 8 Platform Behind“, John Kirk, who doesn’t mince words, has no patience for the view that Android’s market share means it will squash Apple:

“According to Canaccord Genuity, Apple took in 69% of the handset (all mobile phones, not just smartphones) profits in 2012. Samsung took in 34%, HTC accounted for 1%…

No one not named Apple or Samsung is making any meaningful profits from the handset sector…

Many industry observers have the handset market all wrong. They opine that Andoid is destroying iOS. What is actually happening is:

  1. With 69% of the profits, iOS is doing just fine. More than fine, actually.
  2. Android destroyed every phone manufacturer not named Apple (BlackBerry, Nokia, Palm, etc.).
  3. Samsung destroyed every Android phone manufacturer not named Samsung (HTC, Motorola, Sony Erricson, etc.).

Pundits like to predict the imminent demise of iOS, but those profit numbers say just the opposite. And even as Android’s market share has increased, iOS’s profit share has increased too. Market share is no guarantor of profits. This should be self-evident. But apparently, it’s not.”

Kirk follows up with more entertaining disdain for the “church of market share” at “Does the Rise of Android’s Market Share Mean the End of Apple’s Profits?“.

In terms of tablet market share,

“According to Canalys, Apple – despite being supply constrained – sold 22.9 million tablets for 49% share, Samsung shipped 7.6 million tablets, Amazon shipped 4.6 million tablets for 18% share, and Google’s Nexus 7 and 10, combined, shipped 2.6 million tablets.”

In conclusion,

“Only Samsung and Apple are competing in phones. Only Amazon, Google, Samsung and Apple are effectively competing in tablets. The mobile “train” has left the station and companies like HP, Lenovo, Dell and Microsoft are standing on the Windows 8 platform, watching it pull away.”

For more on Microsoft see Kirk’s full post.

Mobile platforms are still evolving and the coming proliferation of new device types guarantee that there will be continuous and substantial change made to those that survive. No one responsible for a mobile development strategy should wait almost a year to evaluate their current plan. Fortunately there is no shortage of useful platform data. It just needs to be interpreted critically.

Tablets in the Enterprise and BYOD strategies

A couple of observations about tablets in the enterprise:

  • Tablets of all dimensions have a role in enterprise use, as do all types of personal computing devices.
  • BYOD is certainly a challenge for some organizations, but is a reminder of how we should have been managing data all along.

Tablets and other personal computing devices in the enterprise
One reaction to Apple’s iPad mini last week was that it would change the dynamic of Apple’s market for tablets since a 7″ inch tablet is more appropriate for consumers so enterprises would stick to the 10″ versions. The only thing correct about this view is that the tablet market will change. But we don’t know how – use-cases are evolving and there are way too many variables beyond physical size. It seems just as likely that the iPad mini form-factor could grow faster in enterprises than the full size iPad. In any case there are certainly enterprise use cases for a smaller, cheaper iPad, especially since those seem to be the only significant differences, and there is no apparent app development cost or learning curve further easing enterprise adoption.

But the bigger point is that enterprises need to be able to support not only multiple tablet and smartphone form factors but a large subset of an unpredictably large set of personal device types.

This is not a new challenge, it is simply one that is accelerating because of the decreasing costs and increasing ease of device development. “Personal” devices in enterprises are not new – employees have often used their own personal computers especially as they shrunk in cost and to BYOD notebook size. Tablets and phones are the next step, but enterprises will soon be dealing with watches, wearable computing, and implants which is why…

BYOD strategies need to focus on the data not the devices
The BYOD continuum is also largely additive – employees aren’t just replacing devices but often using multiple devices to access and process much of the same data – keeping up with the variety and volume and versions of personal devices is hopeless. A BYOD management strategy that focuses on device management will at best have a negative impact on productivity, will certainly increase costs, and most likely fail. There are environments and applications where data security is critical enough to warrant the overhead of a device management strategy that approaches being fail-proof, but even in these cases the focus should be on the data itself with device control as a backup where it makes sense.

It may not be much easier to manage the data independently but that’s the ball to keep your eye on.

Time to re-check your mobile development strategy

The mobile platform landscape has changed dramatically in the last few months. So much so that organizations who even recently reached decisions on a mobile development strategy should re-visit their decisions. I’m not talking about HTML5 vs app development issues – though those decisions are just as important and directly related because of continued innovation in device and operating system capabilities combined with the need to protect content development and management investments – but about which platforms will be viable, or meet your level of risk tolerance.

What has changed? To over simplify: Apple’s dominance continues to increase and is unassailable in tablets; RIM is not a contender; Microsoft is looking like an up-and-comer; and most surprising to many, Android is looking iffy and is a flop in tablets with the exception of the very Amazon-ized version in the Kindle Fire. These are pretty general statements, but if you are in charge of your company’s mobile development strategy considering their impact is a good place to start a check-up for a possible course correction.

Another place to start is to read the excellent post by Tim Bajarin Why Google Will Use Motorola To Become Vertically Integrated. I won’t summarize because the entire post and the comments are really a must-read.

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