Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Downside of Mobile Applications

I had the fortunate opportunity to meet a classmate for coffee this week. I had not seen him for over a decade. He serves as a traffic cop and uses a TDS Recon mobile handheld computer in the course of his work writing tickets.

During our conversation we discussed the rugged laptop he had mounted in his unmarked police cruiser. He said it had many of their police forms and documents on it, but that the mobile software was not able to keep up with the required edits and changes needed on the forms. As a result, they had stopped using it for much of their documentation.

This discussion highlighted the need for a mobile workflow application that is a separate layer from the data layer. The field data collection requirements should be very simple to edit and not impact the field user. If the mobile application requires a complete update to edit data fields, then it risks early obsolescence or as in my earlier example it will simply not be used.

- Kevin Benedict,
Mobile Strategies Consultant, SAP EDI Expert and Technology Writer

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mobility Visions of Christmas Present

I visited the same bookstore twice this Christmas season, and both times I was confronted by mobility and the transformation that mobility is bringing to the world.

On the first visit a sales person greeted me at the front door and handed me an electronic book reader. The sales person said this mobile device, with free Internet connectivity through AT&T, would enable me to receive all of my books and many newspapers remotely, so there was no need to come into the store. Interesting sales presentation that does not bode well for the future job of the sales person that was standing before me. I wondered if the sales person had thought that far ahead?

On my second visit I was in the bookstore with my wife and daughter. As was our habit we selected some of the most interesting books from the shelf and ordered hot drinks. When our drinks were emptied and we had selected our favorite books, I directed us to the checkout line to purchase them. My wife looked up from her iPhone and said they were already ordered for half the price and free shipping. I sheepishly looked around and placed our books back on the shelves and exited the brick and mortar.

So the bookstore has been transformed into a comfortable coffee shop and showroom for books that we will buy elsewhere. I am not suggesting that it is good, just reality. It is part of the churn and transformation that mobility is bringing to all industries.

2010 will be the year of the connected, geospatially aware, super smartphone. There will be much change and some victims, but also many new and exciting opportunities.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
twitter: @krbenedict

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Analyst Report by Mobile Market Development

Mobile Market Development and Wireless Profits has just published a report, that I authored, called Enterprise Mobile Data Solutions which is now available here.

The following is the synopsis.

Enterprise customers potentially offer MNOs (mobile network operators) high profitability, low churn rates and strong demand for mobile data services - but they bring challenging application requirements as well. Additionally, neither of the purchasing models of large enterprises or SMEs make it a given that MNOs will achieve the value-added primary relationship with regard to mobile data solutions that would assure future margins in this sector of the market.

  • Large enterprises will be likely to partner with vendors and systems integrators with specialist skills and knowledge of the business area, potentially making MNO selection a tactical issue based on coverage and price and allowing for multiple, competing MNOs to be selected.
  • Smaller enterprises (SMEs) are more likely to buy off-the-shelf solutions with some customisation performed by value-added-resellers.
As a consequence, a large and profitable market with strong growth may be difficult to address efficiently by MNOs unless they configure offerings and develop partnerships that will work well with the enterprise customers' own business and purchasing models. Mobile Market Development has researched and analysed this market to identify specific trends, strategies and models that can be used by MNOs to help them profitably address this market and its opportunities. The report concludes with a range of recommendations, some addressing the specifics of individual segments of the opportunity and others that deal with the overall approach that MNOs need to take to maximise their return from the very large spend that enterprises will make over the next few years in order to upgrade efficiency and effectiveness in their own mobile workforce.

Table of Contents
2.1Background to the Report2
2.2Report Content3
2.3Currency and Conversions3
3The Mobile Enterprise Market5
3.1Historical Perspective of Market Development5
3.2Current Market Status, Size and Growth7
3.3The Future - Convergence of Mobile Technologies9
3.3.2GPS Integration10
3.3.3Location Based Services10
3.3.4Mobile Workflow Extensions from the Enterprise10
3.3.5Turn by Turn Navigation and Route Optimisation11
3.3.6Geotagging - Static and Dynamic11
3.3.7Mobile Business Analytics12
3.3.8Network-Centric Businesses12
3.3.9Enterprise 2.0 and Mobile Data Solutions12
3.3.10Mobile Training Videos and Live Video Streaming12
3.3.11Smartphones - Personal and Professional13
3.3.12Mobile Device Management13
4Sales & Distribution Models14
4.2Orange's Partner Progamme and The Application Shop14
4.3AT&T MEAP16
4.4BlackBerry App World18
4.5Alltel Wireless Business Solutions19
4.6AT&T and Psion Teklogix19
4.7Sales and Distribution Channels Analysis20
5Mobile Enterprise Application Segments22
5.2Size-Based Segments22
5.2.1Large Enterprise Markets22
5.2.2SME Markets23
5.3Mobile Field Service Automation23
5.3.1Industries Served25
5.3.2Value Propositions25
5.4Mobile Sales Force Automation28
5.4.1Industries Served28
5.4.2Value Propositions29
5.5Mobile Asset Management30
5.5.1Mobile Proof-of-Delivery30
5.5.2GPS Fleet Tracking and Fleet Management30
5.5.3Industries Served31
5.5.4Value Propositions31
5.6Facility and Asset Management31
5.6.1Industries Served32
5.6.2Value Propositions32
5.7Mobile Resource Management (MRM)32
5.7.1Industries Served33
5.7.2Value Propositions33
5.8Mobile Data Collection33
5.8.1Common Use Areas for Mobile Data Collection34 Inspection Services34 Job Estimates35 Insurance Applications35
5.9Machine to Machine (M2M)36
5.9.1NV Energy and Telemetric M2M Case Study36
5.10Mobile Public Safety Applications37
5.11Mobile Health Monitoring and Telemedicine37
5.11.1Mobile Health Monitoring and Hemophilia38
6Mobile Device Considerations40
6.2How Enterprises Select Mobile Devices40
6.2.1Environmental Factors40
6.2.2Using the Device in the Real World40
6.2.3Device Technology & Functionality Issues41
6.2.4Budget Issues42
6.2.5Deals Available42
6.2.6Reliability and Support42
6.3How Enterprises Support Mobile Devices43
6.3.1Supporting and Managing the Mobile User43
6.3.2Technical Fixes45
6.3.3Security, Control & Central Support45
6.3.4Operational, Commercial & Management Issues46
7.2Market Opportunity48
7.3Segment Recommendations48
7.4Overall Recommendations50

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
twitter: @krbenedict

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Postage Stamps, Units of Time and the Mobile Internet

Yesterday my wife sent me to the post office to purchase stamps. I grumbled that the line would be long due to people shipping gifts. Haven't they heard of's direct shipping? After completing my assignment my wife asked me how long I waited in line. My answer, "About 5 online articles." That is the power of Internet enabled smartphones. They can change the very units of measure we use for time!

According to investment firm Morgan Stanley, the mobile web is experiencing faster growth than its desktop predecessor ever did. They go on to forecasts that more consumers will access the Internet by mobile devices than PCs within five years.

For any person blessed or cursed with time on their hands, waiting in lines or on mass transportation, time will increasingly be measured by what they accomplished on the mobile web.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
twitter: @krbenedict

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Google and Mobile Phones - Analysis

"It is understandable that Google wants to be a serious player in mobile communications," writes Martin Peers in an article on December 15th, 2009 in the Wall Street Journal. However, he follows by saying, "It is unclear why it (Google) needs to sell mobile phones to dominate mobile search."

Lets discuss: Google Goggle allows you to take a picture of a landmark or building and then automatically combine the photo with the integrated GPS coordinates to conduct an automatic query that displays information about it. This convergence of technology, GPS radio, digital camera and wireless radio to connect to the Internet are all hardware components in the phone.

The GPS and digital camera components are mobile data collectors. The information collected is used to perform automated searches. These searches can bring up the details of the objects in the photos as well as other choices for food, hotels, shopping etc, near that location. The LBS (location based services) where local companies pay money to have their presence and products marketed is the profit center.

Google would also recognize value in knowing who owns the phone. As the manufacturer and vendor, they would have a good reason to know who owns the phone. They could then connect this information with what they know about you from your existing Google Accounts. They could combine what they already know about your browsing habits and interests in the virtual world with your travels, habits and interests in the physical.

I can fully understand Google wanting to control and own the mobile data collection hardware. It will drive mobile marketing that they want going through their search engine and LBS business now and in the future.

Is it a bit creepy? Yes.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
twitter: @krbenedict

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Geospatially Aware Mobile Inspection Applications for Military and Commercial Use

I have spent many years working with mobile application development tools. Each of the vendors I have known speak about the simplicity and speed of using their tools to develop and implement mobile applications. It is, for the most part, marketing speak.
Developing a mobile application is as simple as the database schema of the business application in which it will be integrated. If it is a simple data collection form that can be integrated with a simple spreadsheet or database, then it is fairly easy and will usually take days or a few weeks to develop. However, if the user wants a mobile version of their ERP, then I hope they have a few months and a significant budget. The point is, most mobile applications that synchronize with back-office enterprise database applications are not easy and simple and this is a problem for companies that need to inspect a wide variety of things.
I have witnessed over and over the challenges an inspection company has with mobile applications that run on handheld computers. The applications take longer to develop and cost more than the inspection task or project justifies. As a result, the inspection company continues to do it by hand. In another scenario, one inspection project may justify the time and expense of developing a mobile inspection application, but the next project does not. As a result, the inspection services company continues to use paper inspection forms on the majority of their projects. That is the economic reality, at least until now.
Recently I read an article called "Kenaz and Touch Inspect: Must-Have Products for the Warfighter" written by Don Jewell. Jewel writes articles for GPS World focused on Defense and the military. He has spent more than thirty years in the Unites States Air Force, where he was involved with GPS systems from their inception, either as a test system evaluator or user. He served as a Commander at Schriever AFB, the home of GPS, and retired as the deputy chief scientist at Air Force Space Command.
In Jewell's article he speaks of a mobile solution called Touch Inspect by Mobile Epiphany. It is essentially a computerized, geospatially aware, data-collection application with an amazing user interface. "The user interface matters to our warfighters!" Jewells writes, "because one of the biggest complaints from our warfighters concerning military user equipment (MUE) such as the Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (PLGR) and the Defense Advanced GPS Receiver (DAGR) is the user interface."
Mobile applications for the military need to be geospatially aware. I wrote an article called Network-Centric Mobile Field Force Automation that explores this requirement in detail from both a military and commercial perspective.
Touch Inspect is unique. It focuses on geospatially-aware inspections and provides a powerful pre-built platform in which custom mobile inspection applications can be developed in just hours. It is unique in that no coding or programming is required and the solution is designed by a company that has a deep history in the electronic games industry. This is quickly apparent when you see the intense graphics and sophisticated features that I have never seen before in a Windows Mobile application.
Jewell writes, "Touch Inspect allows you to build databases on the fly for inspecting things, and I do mean just about anything. But more than that, it is a flexible, user configurable database system that can be adapted for so many uses that are critical to our warfighters and first responders."
Jewell sees applications for this software in almost every aspect of a warfighter’s day, starting with running the various checklists they need to run for weapons, radios, vehicles, and GPS devices. With GPS devices and GIS mapping information right on the device (in other words, you don’t need an Internet connection to see your geospatial maps like you would using something like Google Maps), this new software really shines because it incorporates the warfighter’s current GPS position and time — or the asset’s GPS position — into every database entry, with photos if necessary. And this system uses the topographical maps or aerial images you want it to use, not just simple street maps. Plus, when the computer is once again in Internet, LAN, or WLAN range, it automatically updates the server at HQ and downloads new information automatically without any user interaction.
I recently wrote an article about the use of rugged handheld computers and mobile inspection applications following the devastating fires that killed 173 people last year in Australia. In this case the police and emergency responders had an immediate need for a mobile inspection application that was geospatically aware. This immediate need for a custom mobile inspection application could not be solved by taking weeks and months to develop a mobile application. They needed it now! Touch Inspect has all the appearances of solving requirements for near-real-time dynamic and custom mobile inspection applications.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant

Analysis - SAP's Emerging Mobility Strategy - Fasten Your Seat Belts!

SAP has announced this week that one of their strategic focuses for the next 5 years is mobile computing and mobile software applications according to SAP chief technology officer Vishal Sikka said. The pervasiveness of mobile computing and social networking also have SAP developing applications and extensions, which will allow wireless users to collaborate and utilize SAP and non-SAP related data for on the fly computing.
I write wireless industry analyst reports and provide consulting on mobile strategies so have been keeping a careful eye on this market. It is moving at warp speed now! After many years of mostly small software companies in the mobile enterprise software applications market, the big kahunas are jumping in with both feet and this will change the industry. Read a few of these article titles:

A quick glance at the above articles shows you that the biggest technology companies in the world are now taking mobility seriously and the M&A activities are heating up. Mobile Epiphany is not a large company, but its parent is well funded and sets a higher standard for other start-ups than was faced in the past.

SAP is planning to compete against in 2010. has a popular mobile application and SAP will be required to launch one as well to successfully compete. This is an example of what entrepreneurs should be looking for now. Opportunities to help the ERP vendors meet their 5 year plans with add-on mobile solutions that extend their business processes to the mobile workforce.

My analysis - mobile start-ups cannot simply have a good idea now days. They must do a thorough investigation into the plans of the wireless carriers, mobile device manufacturers, mobile operating system developers and ERP vendors to understand the solution gaps and market place ambitions before launching another mobile application. The enterprise mobile applications market has just been promoted to the big league.

The growth strategies for mobile start-ups these days in the enterprise mobile applications space should involve working closely with the wireless carriers, mobile device manufacturers, ERP vendors and mobile operating system developers. Mobile start-ups are going to need to get in the game quickly or be left behind.

"Sixty to seventy percent of the population have mobile devices" said Don Bulmer SAP VP industry relations, adding that mobile gear is the preferred communications and computing platform. "There are lots of opportunities for SAP," he said.

SAP users want to be able to use social networking sites such as Facebook to collaborate, said SAP executive board member Jim Hagemann Snabe. "Companies want to take advantage of these technologies without disrupting business," he said. Much of SAP's innovation focus will revolve around flexible extensions to core applications and processes, which can be developed and deployed quickly, via an on-demand or on-premise model, said Hegemann Snabe.

Mobile start-ups - Did you catch the model proposed by SAP? They want innovations (think mobile) that are flexible extensions to their core applications and processes that are available to customers in an on-demand model (SaaS).

Social networking is responsible for much of the huge growth in mobile data usage these days. Adding social networking to the enterprise market promises many opportunities for mobile applications companies as SAP has described. If the enterprise adopts mobile solutions with a social networking emphasis, you will quickly see the wireless carriers plunge into this market as well. Keep your eyes open!

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Mobile Applications for Fighting Crime, Reporting Potholes and Birdwatching

Several years ago I consulted with a company in The Netherlands on a city government project to enable all city workers to instantly become the eyes and ears of the police during emergencies. It worked like this - an alert would be sent to all city workers that had government issued phones and were located in a certain geographic area. This alert would ask them to look for a specific car, person or suspicious activity.

This project was clever, efficient but also a little creepy. If the police are chasing a bad guy through the city, then asking for all city workers within a certain area to keep their eyes and ears open is efficient, since it is in all of our best interests to stop bad guys, but in the wrong hands creepy. From a resource utilization, a great idea. This project was an early example of location based services (LBS). If your phone is in this particular zone, keep your eyes open for this bad guy.

This summer Microsoft acquired EveryBlock, a company that feeds local crime and health inspection information to news organizations. With GPS enabled phones, crimes can be reported that are instantly shown on maps and available for the public to see. Instead of just using city employees you are turning the entire populace, at least those with smartphones, into your eyes and ears.

Mobile technologies with integrated GPS are helping the public to be even more involved in the management and priorities of local government as this NPR article describes. The Citizens Connect iPhone app is part of the Boston Mayor's strategy for working closer with citizen's to help manage the city. The program is called Citizens Connect. The Citizens Connect iPhone app is targeted at enlisting Boston residents and visitors to gather information about the physical state of the city (See photo above about pothole reporting).

I am very impressed with these applications and their utility. I consulted on another project where a non-profit organization was taking inventory, using smartphones, of trash and abandoned vehicles in particular neighborhoods. This information was then synchronized into a database and clean-up efforts were organized based upon this information.

Another interesting application that I read about yesterday is called Birdseye. This is an iPhone application for birdwatchers, but it is not just a static reference application. It uses the integrated GPS features of the iPhone to identify the location of bird sightings. This information gets uploaded to Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology and its massive eBird database of bird sightings. This information is then distributed to all subscribed members of the eBird email distribution list. Beware of reporting a rare bird in your backyard. In minutes you may have hundreds of strange people in safari attire and binoculars elbowing their way onto your property.

From a mobile technology standpoint, many of these iPhone applications are similar. They involve mobile data collection with integrated GPS coordinates that are uploaded to a publicly available Internet based application that distributes this information to subscribed members and the collected data is shown on a map.

Have you seen other clever applications? Please share them by adding them to the comments below.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Barcode Scanners on Every Smartphone

This is an interesting develop for smartphones. Sophisticated barcode scanning software built into the digital cameras so a quick photo of a barcode takes you immediately to a mobile website rich in content, coupons, rebates and other product information related to the scanned product. Read below:

Today NeoMedia Technologies, Inc. (OTC BB: NEOM), the global leader in mobile barcode scanning solutions, announced that Sony Ericsson has selected NeoMedia as its strategic 2D barcode partner. Sony Ericsson will begin shipping phones pre-loaded with NeoMedia's NeoReader barcode scanning application globally in the 1st half of 2010. The NeoReader will be pre-installed across all Sony Ericsson platforms.

"Sony Ericsson is very happy to work with NeoMedia as our global provider of barcode scanning solutions. We see great potential in the 2D barcode market and support NeoMedia's strategy to promote and drive the open 2D barcode standards. We are looking forward to working with NeoMedia to explore all the potential the technology enables," stated Robert Westin, Business Development Manager, with Sony Ericsson.

Iain McCready, CEO of NeoMedia Technologies commented, "The marketplace is ready for 2D barcodes - retailers and brands are already experimenting with them, and the technology has long been validated. The challenge is in creating a scalable pool of mobile users capable of scanning barcodes. This partnership with Sony Ericsson will make mobile barcode scanning a simple, out-of-the-box experience for consumers."

McCready continued, "NeoMedia's vision has been to create an open and interoperable 2D barcode ecosystem which would provide a consistent and reliable consumer experience worldwide. This agreement with Sony Ericsson is another important step towards making this vision a reality and is part of NeoMedia's ongoing strategy to accelerate adoption through relationships with manufacturers, operators and brands alike."

The NeoReader transforms camera phones into mobile barcode scanners [1] which provide easy access to mobile content via 2D barcodes. The simple "one click" action makes the mobile internet much more accessible for mobile users. By scanning 2D barcodes via the phone's camera, users avoid typing in long URLs and navigating cumbersome mobile menus.

The NeoReader is a universal barcode scanning application that reads all standard 1D and 2D barcode symbologies - QR, Data Matrix, Aztec, UPC and EAN - so users won't need multiple barcode readers.

About NeoMedia Technologies:

NeoMedia Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: NEOM) is the global leader in mobile barcode scanning solutions. Our technology allows mobile devices with cameras [2] to read 1D and 2D barcodes and provide "one click" access to mobile content. Combining this technology with advanced analytics and reporting capabilities revolutionizes the way advertisers market to mobile consumers.

NeoMedia provides the infrastructure to make 2D camera barcode scanning and its associated commerce easy, universal, and reliable - worldwide.

The company's mobile phone technology, NeoReader, reads and transmits data from 1D and 2D barcodes to its intended destination. Our Code Management and Code Clearinghouse platforms create, connect, record, and transmit the transactions embedded in the 1D and 2D barcodes, like web-URLs, text messages (SMS), and telephone [3] calls, ubiquitously and reliably.

My analysis is that product packaging and newspaper ads will start including barcodes that are in addition to the product barcode. They will be designed to activate an automatic Internet query for additional product information. These automatic Internet queries will also show coupons, rebates, discounts, etc. A quick scan with your smartphone and you will instantly have additional information including the nearest location, based upon your smartphone's GPS coordinates, that sells that product all provided by SaaS vendors that use companies like Midphase hosting to host their services and provide the look-up and product information.

We can use your imagination from here, but this is an interesting development for smartphones and mobile marketing. It is an automated marketing and sales workflow that is activated by the scanning of a barcode on a smartphone.

Can you think of additional uses for this feature? I look forward to your comments.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant

ClickSoftware Enters the MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform) Market

I have wondered for some time how companies like ClickSoftware deal with all the requests for customization from their clients. Inspections, asset management, custom database applications all require custom mobile applictions. This announcement last week from ClickSoftware seems to have answered that question.

ClickSoftware now has back-office and mobile field services software, an SAP partnership and a MEAP (mobile enterprise application platform). They are doing things right.

BURLINGTON, Massachusetts, November 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- ClickSoftware Technologies Ltd. (NasdaqGS: CKSW), the leading provider of workforce management and service optimization solutions, is today launching the ClickSoftware Mobility Suite that will allow companies to seamlessly extend the power of enterprise systems to employees via their mobile devices, whilst also sharing with back-end systems the critical information on activities that they complete in the field. The mobility suite is available as a standalone product but it can also be easily extended, if required, to include other parts of ClickSoftware's ServiceOptimization Suite.

ClickSoftware has combined years of mobile application experience with the latest functional and technical developments to create a step change in mobile enterprise applications. The Mobility Suite has been designed to enable system administrators to easily configure the system to comply with any business requirement without requiring expensive coding or programming skills. Visual configuration tools make it simple to turn business requirements into simple processes and mobile workflows. All can be deployed and maintained remotely, significantly reducing the total cost of ownership.

Paper can be eliminated, business processes shortened and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) tracked with electronic capture of data through forms, barcodes, RFID, and cameras. Real time location monitoring also provides visibility of mobile operations, allowing organizations to see where resources are, what they are doing, and spot and resolve connection problems.

All this information, in combination with the latest mobile technology, gives rise to some exciting possibilities across all business functions. Accurate expected time of arrival notifications (triggered as a result of real-time activities and location) can be automatically sent via SMS to customers. This means that the end client can plan their day around more important commitments, rather than waiting for hours at home for the engineer to arrive.

ClickSoftware's Mobility Suite totally breaks down the walls that have traditionally existed between the back-office, the field and the customers. This communication revolution is enabled through:

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant

Microsoft's Ray Ozzie on Mobile Applications and the iPhone

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's Chief Software Architect recently commented in an interview with CNET, "Yes, iPhone has a lot of momentum, unquestionably. But I think the phenomenon we're in right now is the app phone. And if you look at the depth of apps that are on these phones, they're not very deep. It's not like Office or AutoCAD, where there are just thousands of man years that have gone into developing these apps. They're relatively thin apps that are companions to some service."

Ozzie may be right in that the novelty of cute mobile applications may wear off as powerful mobile clients that work with SaaS (software as a service) back-office and ERP applications catch up. Rather than have all these thin client applications that are OS (operating system) specific, simple mobile applications may retreat to the mobile web browser so they can more easily port from one OS to another, and thick clients will run on powerful and full functional operating systems that are used on laptops and PCs today.

It will be interesting to watch.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant

Smartphone Market Trends and Analysis

Lenovo, a PC maker for the Chinese market, is buying back their mobile handset unit, for twice the price that they sold it for in 2008. Why? Lenovo said the acquisition "signals that Lenovo is gearing up its efforts in the burgeoning mobile Internet market." Lenovo Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing said they view the mobile Internet as a key growth area..."

Wall Street Journal reported in Monday's Edition (November 30, 2009) that Dell, Acer, Asustek Computer and HP have all launched handsets to diversify their product offerings.

What is my analysis? Lenovo sold their handset unit in 2008. Less than 2 years later they buy it back as they believe it represents a key growth area, and they buy it back just as the other large PC makers are launching their own new mobile handsets (smartphones) products to attack the growing mobile Internet market. This signals that PC manufacturers see smartphones as both a competitor to PCs and the future of mobile computing.

I believe that Internet enabled smartphones will be competing more and more with PC sales. As Google, Microsoft, and other companies make more applications available on the Internet in hosted and SaaS (software as a service) models, there is less need to have a desktop PC loaded with large applications waiting for you back at the office. The notion that all things should be mobile has passed the tipping point.

This is also a wake up call for software companies. Smartphone access to back-office applications goes from being a novelty to a requirement. This means software vendors must quickly enable hosted and SaaS versions of their applications to be accessible via the Internet. It means there MUST be mobile application support for smartphones.

As I noted in an article yesterday, even mobile projectors can now be part of your smartphone. As these improve, they even may remove another reason to carry a laptop. Mobile broadband, high powered smartphones, social networking and SaaS models for software all work together to make the smartphone the preferred computing device of the present and the future.

What this trend should tell mobile software application developers is prepare yourself. There is going to be a huge and rapid transition from early adopters of mobile applications, to mainstream users. Everyone is going to want their ERPs and business applications available on smartphones and someone needs to be developing them.

MEAPs (mobile enterprise application platforms) that can mobilize many different back-office applications will benefit if they can develop a successful business model that is appealing to software developers and their customers.

I look forward to your comments. If you would like to discuss any of these trends and my analysis please email.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant