Monday, March 16, 2009

Motorola's MC55 Handheld PDA

Motorola recently announced a very intriguing new handheld PDA called the MC55. Here is what Motorola says about it:

MC55 Enterprise Digital Assistant (EDA)

The MC55 EDA brings a new level of flexibility, functionality and rugged design to size-optimized mobile devices, providing mobile workers with the power to streamline business processes, increase productivity and improve customer service. The smallest and lightest Motorola rugged EDA with a 3.5-inch display, the MC55 packs the power of a cell phone, two-way radio, bar code scanner, digital camera and mobile computer — all into a single device. Designed to meet mobile worker, business application and IT requirements, this easy-to-use and easy-to-carry business-class device offers true consumer styling as well as enterprise manageability, security and scalability.

Note the emphasis on extending business processes, business applications and its rugged design. I like it!


More Information on the SAP and Sybase Mobile Software Partnership

Last week I wrote about the recent partnership announcement between SAP and Sybase. This week more pieces of information are coming out. This is a good article with more details:

Here are the additional pieces of information:
  • This partnership will enable SAP's applications, based on its integration and application platform NetWeaver, to be delivered to mobile devices using Sybase technologies such as M- Business Anywhere mobile content and application platform.
  • Sybase will get access to SAP's 40 million licensees worldwide through the arrangement.
  • Products will begin to appear on the market in the second half of 2009.
  • The move helps SAP approach the mobile market in a device-agnostic delivery model.
  • "[SAP] clearly needed a mobile device solution and sought out a qualified partner instead of going it alone," wrote Jack Goldfounder and principal analyst at J.Gold Associates.
  • "The mobile solution will not be sold or delivered directly by SAP. Rather, this will be a referral sale with the two companies collaborating on the pre-sales efforts, but with Sybase providing all of the products, software, and installation of the solution."
  • In this article Sybase's iAnywhere is clearly defined as the deliverer of this solution

These additional details make it perfectly clear that existing vendors using iAnywhere's products have an opportunity now with SAP's 40 million users.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Questions about the SAP and Sybase Partnership for Mobile Software Applications

SAP and Sybase this week announced a non-exclusive partnership to deliver mobile software applications for SAP on a wide variety of mobile handhelds, iPhones, Windows Mobile devices and Smartphones.

Bill McDermott, president of global field operations for SAP explained that the collaboration “will lay the foundation to further mobilize SAP’s great content and functionality -- and move that content and functionality into the hands of the mobile workforce."

What do they mean, "laying the foundation." Nobody can use a foundation on an iPhone, someone must build the application. I wonder how this will work?

"The mobile enterprise worker is now the most important worker, because that’s the worker that’s touching the customer, the partner, and the supplier,” McDermott said. “This worker relies on smart devices and uses the power of calendar and email -- in addition to, now, the enterprise application functionality of SAP...there will be 300 million smart devices in the hands of mobile workers by 2013 – that’s nearly 100 percent growth from where we are today – and there will be 1 billion mobile users in the nest few years.” He added that “seventy percent of companies are planning to mobilize [business] applications [and get thim] into the hands of their knowledge workers.”

I do believe this could be a smart move for Sybase, as SAP has millions of enterprise users, but I wonder why it is a non-exclusive relationship. Does SAP really think multiple companies can afford a broad based mobile SAP development effort in this economy? I wonder if this relationship is really only about the mobile synchronization and mobile database technology that Sybase has. I wonder if Sybase will simply integrate their syncing and database technology with SAP Netweaver and leave other software developers to build the actual mobile applications. Is this what they mean by "foundation?" This seems the most likely scenario to me.

At the same time, “we are in a new reality in this economy, and companies are looking to extend the value of their existing core IT investments,” McDermott said. As such, many companies are looking for highly integrated “out of the box” solutions that will save them on integration costs and ongoing maintenance of complex systems.

Who is paying who for the "out-of-the-box" solutions? Is Sybase investing in the development of mobile SAP applications, or is SAP paying the bill? The task they have announced is enormous. Of course the details are vague, so maybe it is just hype. I have worked on many mobile applications and the suite of products that SAP has is large. This would be a monumental task, and then how do you create user interfaces for so many mobile devices with different configurations.

I am very interested in understanding how they will deliver the actual mobile software applications. Supporting all of the mobile devices with device specific features is too hard for Sybase or SAP to do on their own. Even Google said there are too many mobile devices and Smartphones with different configurations and features to support them all. There is a limit to what can be done by any 2 companies. I would guess that Sybase would begin selling a "mobile software tool kit" so that other systems integrators and partners could help build out SAP applications with device specific features that run on the Sybase mobile database and synchronization platform.

Here is another interesting observation. I did not see Sybase's mobile division, iAnywhere mentioned in any of the associated press releases or articles I read on this announcement. They did not role out their iAnywhere Management or the iAnywhere products. Hummm...what does this mean...?

Follow this link for the latest update on the SAP and Sybase partnership.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Microsoft's View of the Mobile World

The following 4 comments this week from Microsoft on where they see the mobile market going were very interesting and revealing:
  1. Microsoft sees Linux being more competitive on the PC desktop going forward because the company believes that Google will port its Android mobile OS to the PC.
  2. Microsoft is strongly positioned in the business world and should remain a RIM contender (however, it seems to be giving up on the consumer market where iPhone and Symbian users are growing at a much faster rate than Windows Mobile users)
  3. Ballmer says that the smart phone market will continue to grow despite the economy and that the low price of some Windows Mobile phone offers will help.
  4. Microsoft does not plan to launch their own phone
Google's Vic Goduntra also shared his thoughts on mobility this week and suggested that Google will win no matter what mobile OS customers choose as their strategy is to keep the computing power of mobile applications in the cloud, rather than on the mobile operating system.

Opinions and Comments:

It is interesting that Microsoft sees Google porting Android over to PCs soon. This will really stir things up. I am a big fan of Google applications already and can see how this could evolve quickly and change the market. Microsoft has a major challenge.

I also see a problem with the comments and positions of Microsoft - they seem to have given up on winning the consumer market, but believe they will continue to sell well to consumers in this tough market. If they are conceding defeat in the consumer market, I wouldn't be betting on increased sales for long. There better be a new strategy soon.

Microsoft says they do not plan to launch a Smartphone. Hummm...Apple and RIM both launched Smartphones and operating systems and they are winning. What part of this is Microsoft missing?

I find myself doing more and more work on my iPhone and Google applications. I can see how even in tough economic times the "personal computing devices" will become increasingly popular.


With Cloud Computing - Google Doesn't Care Which Mobile Operating System Wins

That was the sentiment expressed by Vic Gundotra, vice president of mobile and developer platforms at Google, who spoke on a panel at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference in San Francisco this week. Applications like gmail live in the world of cloud computing which means they are less impacted by the various mobile operating systems so although they have skin in the game, they can win no matter the users mobile operating system preferences.

Even Google says it cannot afford to develop different versions of the same mobile applications for all the various mobile operating systems. Their strategy is to develop applications for the "cloud-based" platforms and then make them accessible to all the different mobile handheld PDAs and Smartphones via the internet.

There is still a lot of excitement around internet-centric mobile handhelds and Smartphones even in today's economy says Gundotra. Why? He attributes it to the mobile phones' transition to personal computing devices.

Google's strategy has implications for a lot of mobile software companies and should influence where they spend their R&D budgets in the future.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Good Technology, Vendor of Mobile Sync for Handheld PDAs is Sold Yet Again

It is not easy being a mobile synchronization technology vendor. Synchronization is a technology category that is about as sexy as the kitchen drain pipe. Yes, it is needed, but do you want to schedule a board level meeting and use up precious IT budget on it? Obviously not many companies. For the second time in 2 years Good Technology was sold and the price goes down each time.

"Mobile push synchronization platform and service provider Visto acquired Motorola's Good Technology Feb. 24. Motorola acquired Good in 2007 for more than $400 million in hopes of challenging Research In Motion's dominance in the enterprise mobile e-mail market. "

[Opinion Alert] People get excited about cool mobile gadgets, PDAs, Smartphones and manly rugged handhelds with integrated GPS, digital cameras and powerful mobile software applications that make their work and life easier and more enjoyable in an obvious way. The problem with synchronization software is that it is the drain pipe and no one cares about it unless it doesn't work. [/End of Opinion Alert]

"We believe that this transaction is in the best interest of our customers, employees and shareholders," said Gene Delaney, president of Motorola's Enterprise Mobility Solutions. [translation] No one was buying it.

When an individual purchases an iPhone, do they walk around the Apple Store with the hip, pierced and scruffy-faced Apple nerd pondering the merits of various synchronization technologies? Of course not! They want the cool smartphone to work and they want the provider of the device to figure out synchronization. That is Apple's and AT&T's strategy (and most others) and you can see this strategy in Google's recent license agreement with Microsoft for their Activesync. Google, with their growing suite of mobile applications, are hiding synchronization in their cloud computing environment. It is just there and available. The user is not spending a lot of time thinking about it.

Perhaps that was Motorola's original plan. but Good Technology was competing with RIM's world of Blackberrys, Microsoft and Apple. That is not a list of competitors I would want to be facing and betting $400 million against. I must say that the person behind that purchase must have studied Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" and took it to heart.

Good luck Visto!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Windows Mobile Rugged Handheld PDA the i-Mate 810-F

For those of you involved in the mobile handheld PDA industry you know that there is usually a distinct line between the categories of rugged industrial grade handhelds and the category of consumer grade mobile devices such as Smartphones, PDA Phones, iPhones, etc. It only takes a few questions about the environment the customer is working in to make a recommendation as to the kind of mobile device required. That process is now getting harder as the announcement below demonstrates.

"i-mate, the global specialist in Microsoft Windows Mobile devices and software, today launched the i-mate 810-F, the world’s first complete lifestyle mobile with a lifetime warranty. Designed to meet military specifications, the 810-F combines high-end mobile technology and incredible durability in a single sleek package. Whether you work in the great outdoors or in an office, on the road or on a building site, or you just simply want a tough take-anywhere mobile, the 810-F offers everything you need for work and play. The phone comprises waterproof rubber casing and exposed metal screws to lock in the factory seal, making it impervious to almost anything. A full QWERTY keyboard, and impact resistant touch screen, means you don’t miss a thing while you are out and about... The 810-F is designed around the stringent MIL-STD-810F series of standards. These standards are issued by the U.S. military’s Developmental Test Command, a body whose role is to ensure equipment can withstand the rigours of the most extreme environments. This means the i-mate 810-F can cope with pressure, heat, water, humidity and even extreme shock without missing a beat. The 810-F is equally happy at a chilly -10°C or sweltering 60°C, and can be fully submerged in water."

How do you select the right rugged handheld, Smartphone or PDA? This article on the site called Mobile Software & Handheld PDA Business Strategies has a chapter called Selecting the Right Mobile Computing Device for the Solution.