I have to admit when I was speculating about what the iPad might be in the months after the January, 2010 release announcement, I was skeptical. I *had* an iPhone in my pocket, I recall scoffing. What do I need what amounts to a larger iPhone (the common criticism at the time; I don’t claim I made it up). But then I bought one for my wife (no really, I got it for her–I did) and I tried it and I saw immediately that it wasn’t simply a large iPhone. It was so much more.
And it seems I wasn’t alone. The touch interface on a device smaller than a laptop and larger than a phone was surprisingly handy and interactive and intuitive and fun. And the Apps came fast and furious — tuned specifically for the iPad screen.
I like to the tell story of my friend’s three year old who upon using the iPad immediately understood how it worked, then expected the entire world to operate that way. He began touching the TV screen for instance expecting it to be a touch screen. To be honest, I’ve found myself doing that too at the ATM. (Huh? Why isn’t this working — Oh, it’s not a touch screen).
The ease of use had a profound effect on IT in general. Suddenly, ease of use became paramount — even in the enterprise. People suddenly demanded that enterprise software work as simply and easily as these apps. Clunky software and hardware simply was no longer acceptable to end users. There was a full-scale revolt that even has a label called the “Consumerization of IT.”
Sure it’s a buzz word, but there was a real movement behind the buzz and a real sea change in end user expectations and the role of IT in the organization– and it’s on-going.
When I saw a touch screen scanner a few weeks ago from Sharp, I knew the iPadization (there’s a new word for the Real Story Group’s buzz word slide) was complete. Using your finger on a touch screen you could adjust documents just as though you were using…wait for it…the iPad.
When you think about it, the iPad has had revolutionary impact on computing on all levels from consumers to the enterprise, and that’s not just hyperbole talking — it’s a fact. We are at the one year anniversary and it’s hard to imagine that it’s only one year old on April 3rd. These devices have become that ingrained into our social fabric.
That success has begotten many wannabes of course, whether it’s the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Motorola Xoom, the RIM Playbook or any of the myriad of devices coming out. Each one is supposed to be the “iPad killer.” And they may have better specs, but there’s one thing they’re all not, and that’s what Apple is selling.
A couple of weeks ago, shortly after the iPad 2 came out, I went to my local Best Buy to check it out and I was impressed once again by Apple’s ability to make the upgrade so different and so desirable as to make the first iPad look like an also-ran.
That’s Apple’s unique ability and one year and many millions of units later, I think it’s OK to stop for a second and marvel at the influence of this device. It’s easy to say, but this thing really did change everything — and that’s especially true for IT pros. And one year ago, I don’t think even the most optimistic fanboi would have predicted that.
Photo by yto on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License. ]]>
Dear Symbian Developers,
OK, it didn’t say it like that exactly, but it might as well have. You see Nokia has made it crystal clear that Symbian is not part of its long term plans. There are many phones still in development and that momentum will carry them into 2012, but Nokia has a new love — a long-distance romance in Redmond, Washington, and that will be the focus of its energy moving forward.
And Nokia was not shy about its intentions. When it comes time to upgrade, they hope customers will get a Nokia phone running Windows Phone 7 — not Symbian.
That’s not to say, however, they are ready to kick poor Symbian to the curb just yet. As they like to say on Facebook, “it’s complicated.” That’s because Nokia does a lot of business in a lot of places where Symbian is firmly entrenched. It may be losing ground in the US and western Europe, but it’s still all that and a bag of chips in India, China, Turkey and Russia. It would be foolish to simply walk away from these lucrative developing markets, so Nokia will be dare I say, be torn between two lovers for a while.
Where does that leave Symbian developers exactly? Well, obviously not in a good position. As Harry Fairhead wrote on I Programmer, it’s not looking promising:
“The letter then goes on to say that there are many Symbian devices in the pipeline and a lot of existing Symbian users. Most programmers view this as just the inertia left in the system as the motor driving the flywheel is shut off.”
Indeed. Nokia didn’t make nice with Microsoft for nothing. Like any love triangle, there is a time to extricate yourself from the older lover while moving on to the new one. Microsoft has reportedly paid Nokia a lot of money, so one can presume reasonably that they want some semblance of exclusivity eventually.
It doesn’t leave those who make their living off the Symbian ecosystems in a terribly comfortable position. There will be opportunities to be sure, but there is little doubt that Nokia is going in a new direction.
In the end, like many long-term relationships coming to an end with a new, more desirable lover in the picture, the end will likely be slow and painful, but make no mistake, the end is coming.
And if you’re all in with Symbian, you might want to think about exploring other options sooner than later because your sugar daddy is moving on.
Photo by quinn.anya on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.
I wrote a post (HP Jumps on Cloud Bandwagon) concentrating on Apotheker’s cloud vision, but there was much more to the speech than that, chiefly a declaration of (web)OS Independence from Microsoft with a promise of webOS running on every HP consumer device (including printers).
After I wrote the piece, friend and fellow technology journalist Tom Henderson wrote me an amusing email, which for all intents and purposes told me I missed the real news, and it seems he was right.
As Henderson pointed out, Apotheker, in so many words put Microsoft on notice that that his company’s little $1.2 billion Palm purchase last year turned them from beggars to players for what amounts to enterprise pocket change. To be fair to my own analytical skills, I did recognize at the time of the purchase that this was about competing with Google, Microsoft and Apple, but I saw it as a pure mobile play when it appears to be much more than that.
As I wrote at the time: “Make no mistake though, this is all about getting the best of Microsoft, Google and Apple. And with this purchase, HP gave notice it was grabbing a place at the mobile table.”
Turns out HP had bigger fish to fry. While Apotheker made lots of noise about how Microsoft was a great partner, he let them know in no uncertain terms that HP was going to be a player in its own right with plans to put webOS on every device in the ecosystem.
The implications of this are clear. First of all, HP is no longer beholden to Redmond in any way, shape or form. What’s more, Microsoft is now a direct competitor for both customers and developers. If the vision carries through to fruition, every developer on the planet has to start paying attention to webOS, just for the numbers alone.
And that’s precisely what makes it a brilliant, if risky play. Apple has succeeded with iOS by making it impossible to ignore. HP is banking on the same strategy. You can’t ignore an OS that’s has a potential base of 100 million devices (if you believe the hyperbole).
Regardless, it’s also a strategy that leaves HP hanging out alone in the cold, cruel marketplace. Does IT want to deal with supporting yet another OS? Will general consumers want to buy PCs with an unfamiliar operating system? It’s impossible to say until we watch it play out.
But one thing is very clear, Apotheker has decided to take a stand with a bold vision for the company. If it succeeds, it’s a brilliant play. If it fails, it has exposed one of the world’s great technology companies to serious risk.
One thing’s for sure, I haven’t written about HP in months and I just wrote two successive blog posts about them. Apotheker has succeeded in getting us to talk about his company and, for that he has won the first battle. The war for hearts and minds is another matter altogether, and HP has decided to go it alone.
New CEO Leo Apotheker made clear in a speech yesterday that HP plans to build a new cloud business where it will offer services for developers to build and host applications in the cloud. In fact, HP is going far beyond its current mission selling hardware to competing with services like Verizon, Rackspace and Amazon in the Infrastructure as a Service business (IaaS) business.Apotheker said his company would help customers build a hybrid cloud where part of the data and hardware remains behind the firewall and part of it in the cloud, and would also provide a full range of cloud services including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS – hosted server and storage) along with Platform as a Service (Paas – a Cloud service for building applications).
HP is already well behind the competition, especially IBM and the previously mentioned pure play cloud infrastructure providers. But Apotheker addressed that saying straight out, “I don’t think we’re playing catch up with anyone, certainly not when it comes to IBM.”
Of course he can put up a brave front for the world, but it doesn’t hide the fact the HP faces an uphill battle here. As Apotheker himself pointed out, they need to build to a huge scale to make this cost effective and that means building data centers around the world. It will involve a huge capital investment and it will take time and money.
And while HP builds out its Cloud business, the other are forging ahead with theirs. There’s no way to sugar coat that.
It’s all well and good for Apotheker to recognize that he has to move his company into the Cloud to be a strategic player moving forward, but getting them there is another matter, and the speech was short on details.
In fact, Forrester analyst Frank Gillett as quoted on SiliconValley.com said the Cloud announcement left him scratching his head because of the lack of substance.
But of course Apotheker wasn’t just announcing his company’s new cloud initiative, he also took the opportunity to talk about the new line of mobile phones and tablets running WebOS that will be coming out this year. And make no mistake, there is an obvious link between its mobile vision and its cloud one.
Apotheker left no doubt that he considered WebOS a world class mobile platoform (but then what you expect him to say?) and would be running every HP device including tablets, smart phones, PCs and printers by 2012.
Much like with Microsoft, HP is a big company with a lot of money and big microphone, but it takes more than words to build this kind of business. It takes a huge commitment of internal employee resources and capital expenditures.
This from a company, which under former CEOs Carly Fiorina and the disgraced Mark Hurd, made more news sucking up to Wall Street investors with cost cut-backs and layoffs instead of innovation and investment.
It will be interesting to see if Apotheker can take HP and return it to its glory days as an innovative company that’s not afraid to invest in R&D. One thing’s clear though: It will take more than a good speech to make HP a serious cloud player.
Photo by cpeachok on Flickr Used under Creative Commons License. ]]>
When I was at CeBIT in Hannover, Germany a couple of weeks ago, I saw that dual personality on full display. Microsoft held a high-profile press conference where they were touting their cloud credentials with all the enthusiasm they could muster. Yet at the same time, I couldn’t help noticing it was always tied to their desktop mainstays Windows and Office.
Even though Microsoft clearly recognizes the value of cloud services, it seems incapable of weaning itself from its desktop darlings. Sure, you can use the cloud to accomplish all sorts of interesting things. Just don’t forget that it all comes back to Windows and Office.
Meanwhile, Forbes Magazine reports on a recent speech by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to oil and gas executives in which he predicted that Microsoft’s Kinect gaming tool would have a big role in Microsoft’s cloud computing platform in the future. Blogger Christopher Helman wrote:
“…Ballmer explained that the Kinect technology could eventually help bring oil reservoir engineers together from all over the world to study and manipulate a 3-d rendering of an oilfield. The sensors, said Ballmer, will eventually be integrated into PCs and smartphones and powered by the cloud-based Windows Azure platform. “
That sounds great, but when given the opportunity to demonstrate that kind of round-trip potential today between the cloud and connected devices (leaving Kinect out of it for now), Microsoft failed to do it. A case in point is the new Windows Intune system due out later this month.
It’s an interesting new cloud service aimed at IT Pros that lets you monitor your company’s Windows PCs from a web console. For instance, if a PC on the system needs an update (such as a Windows patch), you can distribute the update and the machine is updated via the cloud without having to be connected to the network.
So far so good, but even though it lets you receive email alerts when the system detects a problem, it lacks a Windows Phone 7 app that mimics the web console. It seems this would be a perfect scenario to connect the desktop, web and smart phone via the Cloud, but they didn’t take advantage.
And even as they tout the Cloud, some of their blog posts seem to question its value. Take for example, the Success is a Marathon, Not a Sprint piece posted by Tom Rizzo on the Why Microsoft blog last month. While seeming to support the cloud, and of course Microsoft’s approach to it, the post recycles many standard cloud fears.
I’m not sure how you can be all in with the Cloud while reciting tired arguments against it (even if it’s to build up a case for your cloud services). If you need further proof of Microsoft’s cloud angst, look to the fact that the man hired to be the company’s chief cloud architect, Ray Ozzie, quit long before the Cloud strategy had a chance to develop fully.
I know I’m confused by all of this. Seems that Microsoft wants it every which way. They want to say they are in the cloud all the way, while protecting their lucrative desktop market. As long as they play it this way, they will be telling two stories and they can’t be surprised when that creates confusion in the marketplace. ]]>
At the iPad 2 release party last Wednesday in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs explained that it would be a mistake for competitors to see the tablet form factor as another kind of PC. In his view, it is much more than a laptop without a keyboard. Yet that’s precisely how some manufacturers here seemed to see it.
Many tablet designs are trying to find their niche by being more enterprise-friendly and that means coming equipped with Microsoft software just like on the desktop and laptop. Fujitsu for instance showed off a prototype of a new tablet due for release in April running Windows 7 with a stylus for pen and mouse input (shown below).
It also boasted a finger print reader and a PC Card slot along with USB ports. The idea is to make it secure and IT-friendly. It’s immensely practical, but it certainly doesn’t have the sex appeal of the iPad 2 and that could be a problem (especially for status conscious executives).
As I watched several presentations throughout the week from high-profile technology company executives, I couldn’t help but notice that speakers repeatedly referred to the iPad and iPhone as examples of disruptive technology. Several indicated they owned both devices themselves. The fact is that if CEOs at major corporations own Apple devices, then chances are IT is finding a way to deal with the security issues associated with using Apple technology in the enterprise.
Asus took a different tact, offering a variety of enterprise-friendly tablets including one running Google Honeycomb with a slide-out keyboard, sensing perhaps that people want to have keyboard input to be a truly useful business device. Indeed, one executive speaking a the conference last week indicated that he carried an iPhone, iPad and laptop because he preferred to do his writing work with a keyboard.
Asus also had models that had bluetooth keyboard stands and a monster 12 inch tablet running Windows 7 they were marketing as an executive tablet.
Yet as interesting and attractive as these devices were (and each one did have some great features), they fell into that trap that Jobs warned about by trying to be a PC instead of a tablet. Sure, it’s great that you can run Microsoft Office on your tablet and use a finger print identifier for security purposes, but is that really what the tablet is all about?
What separates Apple from the pack in my view is its design, its app store and its crystal clear understanding that this is a very different device where, as Jobs said, “the hardware and software intertwine.”
Undoubtedly there are IT shops out there who want to provide tablets for their users, running their standard business software and who fear using external apps such as those found in the Apple App Store, for many reasons including productivity and security concerns. In Germany, for instance, from what I heard, IT tends to be extremely conservative in this regard and these tablets are being developed precisely for this type of market.
There will be organizations around the world that demand a high level of security and familiarity, and these tablets should provide that for them, but it might be at the cost of what makes the tablet special. If you are truly that concerned about these issues, a nice laptop might be money better spent.
Full Disclosure Department: CeBIT paid my travel expenses to attend the conference.
I’m sure it was no fun for the users who logged onto their Gmail accounts last week and found everything gone. I know I would have panicked if it were me, so I’m not minimizing it by any means. But Google did what it needed to do. It found the nature of the problem, it went to its backups and its backups of backups and it recovered the data. As Seth Weintraub wrote on Fortune, tape might be somewhat archaic, but it proved the extent to which Google has gone to protect its data.
The outage appears to have been caused by a bug. As Ben Traynor of Google pointed out, they use tape precisely because it is immune to software bugs. As the old commercial used to say, “The garlic worked.”
But not everyone was convinced that this worked out well in the end. Michael Hickins wrote in a Wall Street Journal article, that this was a black eye for cloud computing in general.
“This is a black eye for companies like Google, which is actively trying to convince businesses and governments to switch their on-premise email systems to online services, which it promotes as less expensive and more reliable.”
I agree to the extent that it plays into the hands of the naysayers and the anti-cloud crowd, but as I’ve asked here before, how many times has your Exchange server gone down in your company? Just because you have an email server behind the firewall doesn’t mean you are immune to problems like the one Google experienced last week during an upgrade.
It was by no means Google’s finest hour, but neither was it an unmitigated disaster because they did what they had to do. In the end, Google recovered the data, and that’s the lesson people should be taking from this incident.
It’s not that Google lost data for a short period of time, it’s that software glitches happen to everyone, even the mighty Google, and we should not be judging them by the fact that they had a problem–because no technology, no matter where it lives is infallible–but by how well they dealt with the problem.
Looking at it from that perspective, we learned that cloud computing works as it should in a crisis situation and Google actually proved the power of the notion. ]]>
It also got me thinking about when we would get to the point where the debate is finally going to stop and we accept cloud computing like we do any other type of computing. We have to get to the a place (wherever that is) where we aren’t having the same old tired discussions about security and reliability and just simply accept cloud computing at face value.
That said, many of the German journalists at the press conference still had questions about the security of putting data in the cloud and they seemed especially concerned about how data stored in the Cloud could still adhere to strict German and EU privacy laws when it was sometimes stored on servers in countries that had much less restrictive privacy rules.
It’s a good question, but BITKOM Chairman, Dr. August-Wilhelm Scheer, who gave a presentation on the state of Cloud Computing, said “An Ivory Tower policy won’t get you very far.” He also pointed out that there are many applications we are using today that cross international boundaries and live on international servers and it happens every day. And we aren’t analyzing our navels over this.
In a separate presentation, Fujitsu CTO Dr. Joseph Reger,looked at it a little bit differently. Yes, the conversation has been on-going, but it has shifted from early conversations about what we mean by the cloud to questioning the benefits of the cloud to today when the conversation is about how companies can implement cloud projects. Of course his company is trying to sell cloud services, so he has a stake in defining it in these terms, but his timeline makes sense.
Reger also pointed out that progress tends to happen more slowly inside the enterprise. Although we’ve been talking about it for quite some time, that doesn’t mean that most enterprise IT departments are going to be rapid adopters.
That could be why the journalist at the BITKOM presentation felt compelled to suggest that a cloud themed conference was getting old, and perhaps he’s right.
But those of us who follow the subject so closely are probably not the ones to ask. I’m sure that once you take a few steps back from the bleeding edge, you’ll find many IT pros and key decision makers inside organizations who are more like Reger described.They haven’t considered all of the implications or studied this chapter and verse, and they are very likely at some point along Reger’s spectrum of cloud understanding.
So maybe it’s OK to continue the conversation, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t long for the day when we can go to a major conference and the Cloud will have achieved a higher status, allowing us to deal with the more complex issues associated with a more mature technology.
Full Disclosure Department: CeBIT paid my expenses for me to attend this conference.]]>