Project 2012: Day 356
Let’s talk quickly about some of the global and local tech events this year that are shifting the market, especially for business in Australia:
Tablets Take Off
Globally the launch of the 4th gen iPad, the iPad Mini, the Samsung Galaxy (everything) has accelerated tablet, and mobile adoption. In Australia this has taken off.
Despite massive advances in Android tablets, the launch of Windows RT &/or 8, the launch of new hybrid laptop/tablet platforms like the Microsoft Surface, hybrid laptop/phone platforms like the Samsung Galaxy Note, there is no slowing the Apple iPad dominance in this field.
Technical leadership, sales volumes, and enterprise adoption is driving this phenomenon.
Smartphones Become Mainstream
Australia has some 62% smartphone penetration. This has affected everything from how people connect, to shopping trends, to banking. Although Smartphones have been mainstream for the professional set for some time, the advent of cheaper android devices, and shift in disposable spending priorities have made this the platform du jour from retirees to teenagers.
Whilst Apple doesn’t have a market share dominance in units, they still dominate usage and profitability here too.
A sub-note here is that Android has become an equal target for application development. Where businesses would initially develop for iPhone, then Android, then Rim or Windows Phone, Android and iOS are more often than not launched at the same time.
Apple launched iOS 6, and iPhone 5. Despite a repeat of the tech press dismissal of the platform, every launch sees Apple sell more devices, more quickly.
Windows Phone has been updated from 7 to 8 – and WP8 is not backwards compatible on WP7 devices. This is serving to further fragment the platform, dissatisfy users, and increase friction for app developers.
RIMM (Blackberry) has launched version 10 of their OS. From a one time position of dominance, Blackberry holds very little of the market. There are still a number of enterprises in Australia that have communities of (mainly exec) Blackberry users. All of the organisations I’ve dealt with are retiring these platforms.
The Apple vs Samsung lawsuits all over the world produced remarkably emotive noise in the media, but hasn’t done anything for either company. Samsung officially sell more devices than Apple. As mentioned above though, usage and profitability remains firmly in the Apple camp.
Inside the enterprise the iPhone dominates too, and many enterprises are looking to Mobile Device Management technologies like Afaria, Good Technologies and others, to secure and manage these platforms.
BYOD is Real
Very few enterprises have launched wide scale Bring Your Own Device strategies in Australia.
Nevertheless, employees are buying their own tablets, smartphones, and ultrabooks, then using these for work. A recent IDC study shows that over 52% of knowledge workers across Asia Pacific & Japan use over 3 devices for work.
Great Things in Small Packages
All OEM’s have responded to Apple’s MacBook Air with a raft of ultrabook laptops. Despite some great advances, Apple still holds technical superiority here in all benchmarks including battery life, screen resolution, weight, performance, and responsiveness. This holds true for Mac OSX and running Windows natively via Bootcamp.
Contrary to common belief, their prices are similar for closely specified machines.
Because of this, enterprises are increasingly adopting the Mac HW platform. The only vendor not seeing laptop and desktop attrition because of tablets, is Apple. In the US they took out #1 spot for desktop sales.
In desktops we’re also seeing a consolidation to “all in one” devices from all of the major vendors. There are two strategies at play:
- Microsoft & PC’s are adopting touch screens across laptop, tablet, and “all in one” PC devices.
- Apple is maintaining a separation from a computer (iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air) without touch, and a mobile device (iPhone, iPad, iPod) with a touch interface.
The Microsoft strategy is still very new, without enough time to identify whether this will be a winner for consumer or enterprise.
Personally, I don’t believe touch is beneficial on a large screen. It’s just too cumbersome on that real estate, and fingerprints aren’t as easy to clean off.
As for the hybrid laptop/tablet? It seems the current technologies (Intel Atom) aren’t powerful enough for true laptop performance, so they don’t compete favourably with the ultrabooks. And these devices (MS Surface, HP Envy X2) don’t have mobile characteristics (cellular wireless, GPS etc.) of tablets, so don’t compete favourably there either.
However, they do provide most of the functionality of both genres of device, and are priced competitively. Will this be enough to sway consumers & enterprise, or will people purchase more dedicated devices?
Early 2013 will tell.
Multiple Devices Drive Less Dependence on Vendor Lock-In
By that I mean Microsoft lock in. As more individuals have Android, iOS, Mac OSX devices, they’re turning to applications that work across these platforms. Whether a native application, or delivered through the browser.
Again, this is still very much the domain of the consumer, but everyone who works for an enterprise is a consumer. It’s still early days, but cloud productivity tools like Microsoft Live Office, and Google Docs, are starting to be considered by more than just the SMB market.
Enterprises, however, are grappling with the delivery of applications across multiple platforms – remote delivery through virtual desktop interfaces, virtualised applications, multiple native applications, or simply browser based applications are all vying for attention here.
Despite enterprises wanting to break free from restrictive licensing models and adopt subscription models, for now the Microsoft is still the most mature vendor in the market. The MS strategy of “on the device AND in the cloud” seems to be adopted by default in the entperprise.
Social Media has Become Mainstream
Microsoft bought Yammer, Google+ is gaining traction, CommBank recently launched Banking on Facebook.
Every (mobile) OS is integrating Social Media into their core user interface.
Every organisation I talk to discusses collaboration within the enterprise, collaboration across their value chain, & social media for consumer engagement. The average knowledge worker has shifted from systems of record, to systems of engagement in their personal sphere. This requires considerable re-thinking of business processes and technology architectures.
Globally successful businesses are making the shift: Apple, Amazon, Virgin all benefit from computer mediated engagement throughout their business. Local enterprises have yet to consider this seriously.
Everyone Uses the Cloud
Many don’t realise it. From email, to file sharing, to music matching, more and more people are consuming services hosted on public cloud platforms.
This is happening within the enterprise too. The original clarion call of data sovereignty that vetoed any consideration about cloud is now being dealt with more diligence from both sides of the fence.
Infrastructure services are now hosted in Australia by most of the major public (Amazon, soon Rackspace, Google) and private (Telstra, Optus, HP, Fujitsu, IBM) vendors. The only vendor not to take this path currently is Microsoft with either Azure (public) or O365 (public & private) assets.
Enterprises are also working through IT strategies that look to various cloud platforms to host different workloads. CBA recently announced their adoption of AWS services for certain workloads, and called Australian business to do the same.
The competition for IaaS has heated up with AWS launch into Australia. As in other parts of the world, their pricing, speed to market, and flexibility are simply too compelling to be ignored. Whilst there is a lot of rhetoric from vendors and in the media about “true” comparisons, the adoption of public cloud services by major Australian enterprises; News, Fairfax, CBA, ABC, to name a few, belies this consideration.
With IaaS becoming a highly contested, and commoditised market, enterprises are looking to SaaS and even BPaaS (Business Process as a Service) but this market is still very immature. Besides hosted messaging, collaboration, and a few CRM services, there is still little choice for enterprises but to host on-premise applications with IaaS providers.
The Network Still Hasn’t Arrived
Broadband is fairly ubiquitous in metro areas, but not so once out of town. Similarly, the NBN hasn’t arrived yet, and probably won’t in the metro for some time to come. This has been a factor in the relatively reticent adoption of cloud computing.
This is the same for wireless 4G services. Devices are beginning to flood the country, spectrum incompatibilities notwithstanding. Yet providers are slow in upgrading their networks to benefit from these technologies.
Mobile Photography and Videography is Taking Off
This is still the domain of the consumer for now. From a photography perspective we’re seeing the massive attrition of compact camera sales as smartphones become the camera du jour for most people. At the same time, many, many more photos are being taken and stored.
Video has seen advances in the hand-free cameras, such as the GoPro, Contour, and new competition from Sony. From surfing to sky diving, more and more people are using hands free cameras to capture their experiences.
In the enterprise desktop video conferencing is beginning to become mainstream as laptops, tablets, and smartphones have cameras, applications, and bandwidth to support this. In this vein Microsoft bought Skype last year, and has integrated this with their Live Messenger product in Windows 8.
It’s Still About the Magic of Software
As with the advent of the PC in the 80’s that changed the nature of home and business computing, because one device could do so much; so mobile devices now enable people to carry less, and do more. All through the magic of software.
Companies that have adopted mobile, social, and cloud models effectively have done so because of their focus on the applications, not the underlying infrastructure or technologies.
And for 2013?
Next week – the last for my CTO blog of 2012 – I’ll look into my crystal ball and make some predictions for next year