How Android And iOS Change Mobility
So when the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company announced on Aug. 27 that it would miss its quarterly expectations for revenue, it was an announcement worth studying. In a press release, the company stated, "Revenue is being affected by weaker than expected demand for consumer PCs in mature markets."
Some miles down the road, in Cupertino, Calif., Apple is reporting no such issues with its markets. In fact, it's reporting ever-growing numbers of iPhones and iPads being shipped into the pipeline. At the same time, dozens of manufacturers are ramping up sales of Android-based mobile devices -- taking advantage of the Google-led architecture and ecosystem for independent software vendors.
The implication is clear: The new mobile devices are eating PCs for lunch. Don't start striking up a funeral dirge for the PC, though. Expect Intel and Microsoft, the most competitive businesses in the history of the world, to mount aggressive responses. But when they do, they'll have to take into consideration the fact that the world is now a different place.
Because of the advances we've seen in the past 12 months in Android and iOS, we are now in the midst of the single, greatest shift in technology use patterns in history. This will have a profound impact on the entire universe of IT: Geolocation/presence awareness, always-on access, several-day battery life, 3G connectivity, Wi-Fi tethering, high definition and more are changing what we demand of products.
In this month's CRNtech, we take a look at how iPhone, iPad and Android-based devices like the Dell Streak will make your mission vastly different. They will create new issues, but offer new opportunities.
NEXT: Live Everything Everywhere Live Everything Everywhere: Apple's iOS on iPhone 4 rolled out real-time videoconferencing in the palm of your hand with FaceTime. It doesn't work over AT&T's network; you and the party with whom you're conferencing need to connect via Wi-Fi. But this opens the door to an enormous amount of potential for applications that could leverage this capability.
Even before FaceTime, a fledgling Web video service, Qik, began offering software that allowed cell phones with video capability to stream video live to the Web -- essentially making anyone with a (supported) smart phone their own CNN.
FaceTime, Qik and smart-phone-based, real-time, high-def video will change basic mobile communication in ways that prior-generation technology has not.
FaceTime, however, requires the iPhone to have a broadband Wi-Fi connection in order to work. (AT&T's 3G network doesn't provide enough bandwidth.) It should be said that FaceTime also works with iPod Touch.
For enterprise information technology, Live Everything Everywhere means these live, streaming demands on wireless networks will increase the need for bandwidth management and load-balancing. For developers, it opens up the possibility of integrating live video with mobile apps. (We've seen, for example, Salesforce.com take a leadership position in business applications on the iOS platform. It would be great if it could integrate live video, via FaceTime, for customer contact. Eventually, though, somebody will do just that.)
Geolocation: It's not just that the iOS and Android now allow you to share your location via social-networking services like FourSquare or Facebook, but that third-party vendors are beginning to unlock tons of value in their offerings by bringing geolocation of these platforms into their core businesses.
Case in point: TomTom, the maker of GPS devices, has announced it will enable its iOS software with the capability of taking geo-tagged iPhone photographs and giving you directions to get back to the place where you snapped the photo. It will literally allow you to take a trip down memory lane by leveraging iOS' geolocation technology.
Already, AT&T's "Family Map" can leverage geolocation on its cell phone network to tell parents where their kids are if their phones are turned on. It works like a charm on the iOS platform. The potential of delivering this technology as an easily deployed, fleet management system for small business is a no-brainer.
Microsoft drew rave reviews from many resellers when it first rolled out its presence-awareness technology, but geolocation on the iOS and Android platforms will have just as significant repercussions in IT. Everything from service deployment to e-mail to end-point security (it now takes about two minutes to locate an iPad, for example, via Apple's MobileMe and wipe its hard drive clean if it gets lost -- without mess and without fuss) will come with new end-user expectations as a result of advances in these two mobile platforms.
NEXT: Battery Life
Battery Life: Here is where Apple is ahead of its competitors, including Dell with the Dell Streak: Battery life.
The iPad provides a consistent 12 hours of battery life with Wi-Fi-only versions while used for just about all of its tasks, including watching video. In light or moderate use (for tasks like e-mail, word processing or reading e-books), it can last more than three days without needing a charge. So think about it: You board a plane, get to your destination and realize you forgot to pack your power cord. If it's a business trip for three days or less, you can consider yourself in good shape. We can't say that about even the best battery-life notebooks we've reviewed in the CRN Test Center lab.
Notebook manufacturers should be scared out of their wits if business users simply decide to leave their laptops at home when they hit the road because they can take their iPad instead. Just as mobility fueled the migration from desktops to notebooks, hassle-free mobility (and yes, power cords and power outlets can be a hassle for business travelers) will change use patterns as well. Vendors need to take a good hard look in the mirror, and at the blueprints in their R&D labs, to figure out how to combat the iPad's battery life. Once a use pattern changes, it's gone forever.
Battery life in the iPhone, running iOS 4.1, can vary dramatically depending on what is being done with it. For standard calling, e-mail, listening to music and texting, with brightness at the lowest level of comfort and GPS shut down, an iPhone can last for nine or 10 hours before needing a charge. But if advanced applications are in use, including GPS, the battery can run down in a fraction of that time. For most people, the iPhone will provide all-day battery life.
We experienced nice battery life with the Dell Streak (as much as six hours with Web-browsing, watching video and taking photos and video, for example), but found that when it's shut off, the battery drains much quicker than we'd like. It's not a deal-killer, and we do expect Dell to work on this in forthcoming versions of the Streak.
NEXT: True Mobility
True Mobility: We sat down with Michael Dell at his company's headquarters way back in 2007, and asked him how he planned to compete with the iPhone from rival Apple -- which hadn't yet been released but which was already creating a buzz.
At the time, he didn't have an answer to that question but he didn't shy away from the big picture. "People want to bring the Internet with them," he told us.
Fast-forward to this summer. Dell launched the Dell Streak, its Android-based competitor to both the iPhone and iPad. Yes, it's three years behind Apple. Yes, Dell has had some spectacular failures in handheld devices over the years. (The Dell DJ Ditty is still cringe-worthy.) But after examining the Dell Streak and measuring it on a variety of factors, it's clear that the company has converted on the market's desire for Internet-anywhere.
Its size: bigger than an iPhone, smaller than an iPad. It has a 5-inch screen that is very comfortable to view (easier on the eyes than the iPhone), and is less than a half-inch thick. It fits into a jacket pocket, which an iPad can't do. With 3G connectivity, it's possible to use the Streak as a primary cell phone, although you might feel like a 1980s-era Gordon Gekko using an outsized mobile phone when you compare it to other smart phones on the market.
And the Android market, while not as robust as Apple's iTunes App Store, continues to grow quickly with significant new software. Salesforce.com, for example, has begun launching software for the Android platform. It's made its Chatter app available for Android -- providing for instant messaging and collaboration -- and priced it free for existing deployments of Salesforce.com or $15 per month separately. We expect more from Salesforce.com on both Android and iOS over the coming quarters.
The Bottom Line: If you're not architecting IT deployments and factoring in options for iOS and Android in the enterprise, it's more likely than not that you'll be caught flat-footed as a solution provider. Use patterns, functions and expectations are changing -- and quickly -- and 2008 solution models are on the path to obsolescence without provisions for weaving in these new platforms.
Best practices will also be on a fast course to change. The ability to remotely wipe a hard drive on a mobile client device -- as we mentioned earlier with the iPhone and iPad -- will loom larger as a standard element to solutions as opposed to the premium solution it has traditionally been.
Microsoft ported Exchange over to the iOS platform two years ago, and effectively made the Apple device business-ready in the process. Android has some catching up to do, but with AT&T not an option for many businesses -- particularly those where AT&T 3G service is unavailable -- Android will continue to be a critical platform for enterprise IT moving forward.
The word out of Redmond, Wash., too, is that Microsoft is finally ready to get serious about Windows 7 mobile -- and we could see it on AT&T and T-Mobile platforms by year's end.
Between now and this time next year, a rallying cry may be to get mobile or get packing.
COMMUNITY: Connect with the CRN Test Center at community.crn.com.