Friday, August 15, 2008

iPhone Enterprise Mobility Apps

Finally, it appears that iPhone has real enterprise business applications available to run on it. This article lists the top enterprise mobile software applications as:
  1. Oracle for iPhone
  2. Salesforce for iPhone
  3. Sybase's Mobile Office for iPhone

These are small applications, but with great potential.

Great Article on Enterprise Mobility Trends for Mobile Handheld PDA Applications

This is one of the best articles, with good data, good opinions and bold projections on the enterprise mobile computing industry, Handheld PDAs and Mobile Software. It is interesting that this article came out on MacNewsWorld.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Apple's App Store & T-Mobile's Application Store

Both Apple (with App Store) and now T-Mobile (T-Mobile unconfirmed) are launching or are preparing to launch online stores to distribute and sell mobile business and consumer software applications. I have long been involved in the mobile business application markets and can see both the benefits and challenges this model can have. Let me summarize:
  • Online stores promoted by big name companies - this is a good thing. Most mobile business application companies are small companies that can use all the help they can get from a larger company's marketing funds.
  • More visibility to the carrier's network of sales people and reseller channels - again this is good for the small software company producing mobile business applications
  • Sharing 30% of the revenue with the Online Store - this means you are effectively giving up 30% of your revenue as a "cost of sales" or "marketing cost". This would be OK, if you consider the Online Store as a reseller, however, you are still likely to be required to do all of the pre-sales, sales, post-sales and support work anyway. This can get expensive and unprofitable if mishandled.
  • Most mobile business applications consist of many different software components, only a small portion are actually downloadable to the mobile device. So if your multi-component mobile business application only makes a mobile client available on the Online Store, then the remainder could be sold directly by the small mobile business software company in a separate transaction. This is the likely scenario that will work. The Online Store would sell a $19 mobile software client, but the mobile application server, administration component, mobile workflow and device management would be separate applications and fees available directly from the software vendor for another $97,000 (I just made that number up).
  • In effect - the software vendor will just alter their pricing to lower the price of the mobile client - sold through the Online Store, but raise the price of their server, manager, work flow and device management components to meet their revenue model.
  • The net effect to the Online Store is they will make 30% of the $19 mobile client component downloaded from their site, but none of the $97,000 for the rest of the enterprise mobile software platform, consulting and integration fees.
  • The Online Store will not like this model and will tend to promote a monthly service based software package in the SaaS model. The Online Store will see this as getting a larger piece of the entire enterprise mobile solution, not just the small mobile software client.

It will interesting to watch how this model plays out in the market.

- Kevin Benedict

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Great Links to Mobile Technology Portals, Websites and Other Points of Interest

Hello Folks,

I found this list of wireless and mobile industry links that is quite useful.

» Portable Design Mobile Computing
» Wireless Week» Wireless Net DesignLine
» Mobilized Software
» Mobile Enterprise
Wi-Fi Planet
» Mobile Handset DesignLine
» RF Design
» RCR Wireless News
» Wireless Design & Development
» Unstrung» Wireless IQ
» Ultrawideband Planet
» Mobile Tech Today
» CWNP Wireless Certifications
» Global Wireless Education Consortium
» WiMax Forum
» FCC- Wireless Telecom Bureau
» Google Mobile
» CDMA Development Group
» WINLAB» MIPI Alliance
» Investing in Wireless
» Open Mobile Alliance
» 3GPP
» 3GPP2
» Bluetooth SIG
» Enterprise Wireless Alliance
» UMTS Forum
» Wireless Messaging Association
» Mobiliser Intel for Wireless Executives
» 3G Today
» The Wireless Report
» BlipLog Mobile Content
» Mobile Mentalism
» Mobile Entertainment
» m-trends Mobile Media Lifestyle
» This is Mobility
» Mobiltee
» Wireless-Watch.Community
» MobHappy
» Mobile Monday

More on iPhone Challenges and Mobile Software

Larry Borsato of the Industry Standard wrote an insightful article recently on the Nine reasons the iPhone apps platform is lacking. Tiny companies, developing tiny applications, with tiny investments may be interested in developing tiny mobile software applications for tiny niche markets, but any significant mobile software company that develops industrial strength mobile applications would be unwilling to work under the present conditions set forth by Apple.

- Kevin Benedict

Monday, August 11, 2008

Otterbox, Dell Axiom PDAs, Handhelds and Windows Mobile 6.0

Today, while waiting for the activation of my new mobile phone, I watched the water bottle delivery guy carry to large bottles a water in the store. On his hip he wore a nylon case with a mobile device in a rugged case (Otterbox) inside it. I could not stop myself. I walked over and asked him what kind of mobile device he was using inside the rugged Otterbox case. He grimaced as he set the heavy water bottles down and reached into the case. He held it up for me to inspect. It was an old Dell Axiom PDA inside the rugged case.

There is nothing wrong with a Dell Axiom, except for the fact they are no longer made. They ran on Windows Mobile 5.0 and earlier versions of pocket pc, so there is no Dell Axiom that can run on Windows Mobile 6.0. Again, nothing is wrong with running on Windows Mobile 5.0, unless the Dell Axiom dies and you need to buy a new mobile device. New mobile devices run on Windows 6.0. There is nothing wrong with buying a new mobile device that runs on Windows 6.0 unless of course the software you were using only runs on Windows Mobile 5.0. If you developed your own mobile software application 2 years ago for the Windows Mobile 5.0 OS, and your trusted software developer has long since departed for an IPO-bound career in a wireless mobile software company, then you have some challenges.

Most companies do not think about technical obsolescence issues when they decide to custom build a mobile application internally. For a longer list of issues to consider before choosing to develop your own mobile application please visit this website.

- Kevin Benedict

iPhone Business Applications

On Tuesday, August 5, 2008 the Wall Street Journal published an article called Ringing Up Business With iPhone Applications by Raymund Flandez. In this article, an example of a business applications is a set of medical flashcards that work on iPhones. They also suggest these business applications, at $39.00 are expensive. OK...let's talk.

Real mobile business applications are extensions of key business applications that are run in the office. These mobile business applications enable you to integrate mobile devices with large, complex database applications that include workflow automation, database queries and business automation. The challenge that Apple has today is that their software SDK (software development kit) does not include synchronization technology that enables software developers to easily move data between a database applications in the office and the iPhone.

Another criticism I have for this article is suggesting that $39.00 for a business application is expensive. Expensive is of course relative, but significant business applications can often be worth $39,000-$390,000 to companies that can automate and mobilize their mobile users.

- Kevin Benedict

Monday, August 04, 2008

Convergent Handheld PDAs & Garmin

I have written several blog articles over the past couple of years on the concept of "convergent" handheld computers and PDAs. My definition of a convergent device is a handheld computer or PDA that combines many different features such as:
  • Mobile phone
  • Music player and mass storage
  • Digital camera/video camera
  • GPS and navigation
  • Internet connectivity
  • Powerful operating system that can run powerful business applications (windows mobile or equivalent)
  • Audio memos
  • etc

The convergence of these features in one mobile handheld device provide the mobile worker/field services worker the capabilities of automating and mobilizing many of their business processes and applications without carrying multiple devices.

Garmin, a long time satellite-navigation device company, seems to just be absorbing this concept. As printed in the Wall Street Journal's on Saturday, August 2, 2008 - Garmin has been planning, but is now delaying the launch of their mobile phone and gps navigation device until the first half of 2009. It does not seem to include many of the features listed above, but does combine the mobile phone with GPS/Navigation. My question, like the Wall Street Journal's, is why now? Where were they when they owned the GPS/Navigation market? Did they completely miss this concept in 2006, 2007 and 2008 when the iPhone was introduced? Did they really think people would want to carry multiple devices around?

- Kevin Benedict

Friday, August 01, 2008

Mobile Software, Handheld PDAs & Paper Processes Compared to Mobile Handheld PDA Solutions

I have worked with many companies that have experienced challenges with processing paperwork. Why? Often the work is performed in remote locations by people without years of experience, far from the accounting systems, managers and administrative staff. Here is some of the paperwork involved:
  • Creating a job estimate
  • Getting the job estimate approved and signed by the customer
  • Scheduling and assigning the work to a specific service technician
  • Hiring new employees or contract help and completing the documentation
  • Documenting the work (to the customer's satisfaction)
  • Submitting the completed work to the customer for payment (in the proper format)
  • Paying the employee or contract help

This process may happen hundreds or thousands of times per day across a wide geographic region. How does the central office collect, enter and review all of this paperwork to ensure accuracy? How do managers keep all of the correct business processes happening in the field? How do you ensure quality and professionalism when there is significant staff turn-over? How do you keep your customers happy?

Many of these issues can be avoided, or eliminated by using an automated business process on a rugged handheld, PDA or Smartphone at the point-of-work. The handheld PDA and mobile software application can step each service technician systematically through the correct business processes. The handheld solution can inform the service technician how things need to be completed, provide additional audio and video examples, and alert when something has been done incorrectly. The information entered in the field, at the point-of-work, can be synchronized with headquarters and reviewed by management in near real time. This is how companies can ensure quality, consistency and the ability to scale up their business.

- Kevin Benedict