It’s too soon to tell how the T-Mobile-Sprint deal may affect prices for wireless service in the long term, but industry observers agree the merger could produce a strong player in the 5G market.
A federal judge ruled favorably on T-Mobile buying Sprint this week, bringing the merger within a few steps of reality. If the merger does go through, the new company would be known as T-Mobile.
Analysts said how the T-Mobile-Sprint deal may affect the enterprise day-to-day was less clear than what it says about the importance of 5G, specifically in competing with Verizon and AT&T.
Hogler Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said T-Mobile and Sprint are slogging through a long wait for approval, with the merger first being announced in 2018 but delayed in part because of a suit filed by 13 attorneys general. If the takeover does take place, he said, Sprint and T-Mobile must work quickly to combine their networks as they try to measure up against A
T&T and Verizon on 5G.
The next generation wireless technology was cited by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the primary reason for approving the T-Mobile-Sprint deal last fall. It found the merger to in the public interest, saying in a press release, “the deployment of 5G networks is a critical national priority that will bring meaningful benefits to American consumers.”
The FCC’s decision was conditional on the new T-Mobile’s commitment to deploy 5G service to cover 97% of American people within three years and 99% of Americans within six years. “This commitment includes deploying 5G service to cover 85% of rural Americans within three years and 90% of rural Americans within six years,” the press release stated.
Mueller echoed the FCC, saying the move could be a positive one for consumers, as Sprint in particular could not afford the capital expenditures needed to stay competitive.
“Together, they should be able to do good things around 5G,” he said. “5G adoption will be key [for the combined company].”
Mueller said, as spreading 5G coverage will require additional infrastructure for all carriers, it may be a great time for a combined Sprint/T-Mobile to start anew.
Better speed, broader network
Frank Gillett, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, said it will take time to determine whether there will be sufficient competition for wireless service. While the merger removes a player from the marketplace, Gillett noted that another company, Dish Network, has pledged to create a network of its own.
The major takeaway from the merger, Gillett said, how this will affect 5G adoption. He believes the merger could put the new T-Mobile in good position to build out a network that “combines the two flavors of 5G.” The two flavors are millimeter wave, which provides greater speed, and sub-6Ghz, which provides a more robust network. The combo will give the new company a short-term advantage, he said.
According to Gillett, the new company’s advantage is biggest with sub-6Ghz service.
“For [millimeter-wave] support … the new T-Mobile will have to build out support over specific areas, just like AT&T and Verizon, since that requires all-new gear,” he said.
In terms of setting up private 5G networks such as in factories or on campuses, Gillett said the new T-Mobile would be in the same position as its competitors; it would vie against Verizon and AT&T to win private wireless service contracts for enterprise equipment.
“For enterprise customers, this should increase the competition and offers around 5G coverage, but [it] doesn’t change things radically in the short run.”
Industry observers called the cancellation of Mobile World Congress 2020 disappointing but understandable.
The cancellation was announced on Wednesday, with hosting organization GSM Association officials attributing the move to concerns regarding the coronavirus outbreak. Prior to the announcement, large companies — including Amazon and Sony — said they were pulling out of the Barcelona-based event.
“The GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” GSMA CEO John Hoffman said in a statement.
Mobile industry experts said there would be something lost without this year’s event but noted that global health worries superseded those concerns.
“[MWC has] become such a significant industry event for launching the next year’s worth of mobile technology,” said Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst J.P. Gownder. “It’s a very central point of community and industry socialization, … so, from that perspective, there’s something lost.”
Gownder does not believe any one particular product or company will be
hamstrung by the move, but described the event as an important one for deal-making and relationship-building.
“The real loss is the sense of community and bringing people together,” he said. “Much like CES, it’s a case where, globally, you’re getting all these people working together in an ecosystem.”
Asian companies, Gownder said, might feel the loss more keenly than Western firms. Those businesses, he said, often have a harder time getting their messages heard in the west than vice-versa. Therefore, MWC Barcelona 2020 represents an opportunity for them that they will not have this year.
Jason Bayton, chief product officer at Social Mobile and owner of Bayton.org, said, had MWC Barcelona 2020 taken place, there would have been health concerns.
“On that basis, I think they made the right decision,” he said. “I’m just disappointed because I have been going there the last couple of years and I enjoyed it thoroughly.”
Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said the cancellation is a consequence of a more-connected world.
“The ramifications of local health challenges become global soon,” he said. “MWC is the first victim in the mega-conference league, but not a surprise given the large number of Chinese headset makers who understandably should not travel — and even could not travel.”
The GSMA and participating companies, Mueller said, faced a corporate responsibility question, adding that the costs of holding and attending a conference might exceed the benefits.
The coronavirus outbreak, Bayton said, has already had an impact on the mobile supply chain. As the industry depends on parts mass produced in China, the outbreak has led to uncertainty. When the situation does resolve, he said, the mobility market may make changes.
“I imagine things will bounce back at some point and normalize a bit more,” he said. “Obviously, the mobile market is not going away. The innovation is still there, but I imagine there will be a stronger effort to diversify.”
TechTarget Senior Site Editor Erica Mixon contributed to this report
An inadequately tested mobile app may have contributed to the confusion surrounding last night’s Iowa Democratic Party Caucus, something experts said underlined the importance of developers testing apps before they are deployed.
The New York Times is reporting that the app, commissioned by the Iowa Democratic Party, was created in the past two months to tabulate the caucus results.
Yesterday’s caucus ran into unprecedented issues, with results not yet reported as of Tuesday afternoon. The party, per the Times, has denied that the app’s failure caused the reporting delays.
David Krebs, executive vice president of enterprise mobility at VDC Research, said early media reports cited multiple problems with the app’s rollout: coding issues may have resulted in only partial reporting of the data, but it could also have been that users downloaded the app at the time of the caucuses rather than before and may have run into difficulty.
Taken together, he said, the issues suggested there were problems with the rollout and training needed when introducing new digital tools.
A 2019 VDC survey of 772 software developers and engineers found that only 13.1% use dynamic application security testing tools, automated tools used to detect weaknesses and security vulnerabilities for web apps while the program is running. Only 17.8% of survey respondents reported using dynamic software testing tools, automated tools that test the code of an application while it’s running, for a recent project.
“As one might expect, developers using test tools report finding more defects than those who may not,” he said.
Krebs added that engineers might use manual testing or in-house tools instead of those automated options.
Although it’s possible mobile app testing could have improved the app used in Iowa, Krebs noted, it’s hard to be certain without more specifics.
“It is worth mentioning, however, that even if this had been addressed [and] fixed, it appears that issues would still have arisen due to poor planning and training of those entrusted with using the apps,” he said.
Dion Hinchcliffe, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, called the situation “one of the most dramatic tech failures ever” on Twitter.
“The vote tabulation app was never apparently used in a real-world election before, nor was it tested on a statewide scale,” he said via email.
The brief timeframe given to develop the mobile app meant there was little time to do acceptance testing, a process of using the app enough to know it performed as intended, according to Hinchcliffe.
“While little is known about the app creator, a firm known as Shadow, it seems that ‘security through obscurity’ — meaning a process of keeping a system safe by exposing it as little as possible to the real world — was a central part of the approach used here to keep the app safe,” he said. “[That] likely prevented enough formal scrutiny to ensure it worked correctly.”
Hinchcliffe said he had experience with app testing himself, as he had conducted formal system testing verification as a system architect at the Missile Defense Agency.
“Sadly, as those familiar with testing application systems know, only a regime of continuous testing can ensure a system works as designed and stays working that way as it is modified over time,” he said.
Apple announced many new features for iPads, iPhones and more at its Worldwide Developer Conference this week.
While announcements such as iOS 13’s dark mode and the $999 price tag for the Pro Stand desktop display stand garnered attention, there were plenty of announcements regarding new iOS features that could interest enterprise users.
Apple iOS 13
Security and privacy features
There are several new security and privacy features in iOS 13. First, end users and IT have more granular control over location sharing. A user or IT pro can permit one-time location permission for mobile apps and require the application to request permission to track user location for any additional uses of the app.
This new iOS feature can prevent unwanted location tracking for apps that users don’t run often. Further, it can limit the damage that malicious apps can inflict by restricting its access to location data. Additionally, Apple added protections to prevent apps from scanning for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth data to determine users’ location.
To simplify in-app authentication, Apple introduced Sign in with Apple. Apple provides IT with an API to integrate this authentication method with applications that require some sort of login. Sign in with Apple gives users the option to generate a login based on FaceID rather than a social media or email account.
If a user wants to hide his or her email from the application, Sign in with Apple generates a random email to serve as the login credential and forwards any emails from the application from the dummy account to the user’s real account. Sign in with Apple also helps users manage mobile app email notifications with the option to turn off the forwarding process from the dummy email account that Sign in with Apple created.
Other new iOS features
With iOS 13, users will be able to include attachments as part of calendar events. This could help users access relevant data quickly to prepare for meetings or interviews. Apple also introduced an update for Siri in iOS 13 to help simplify the UX. Siri now suggests automations based on behavior patterns that users can design and implement through the Shortcuts app.
Other UX additions include Voice Control for macOS and iOS, which allows users to control their devices exclusively with voice input. Users can now choose “swipe to type” as a method for keyboard inputs as well.
Apple announced a new OS exclusive to iPad tablets, known as iPadOS. This OS could present mobile admins with additional hoops to jump through, but Apple’s tablets will have a range of new hardware and software-enabled features that will present new use cases.
For example, users will be able to perform file sharing over the iCloud drive with iPadOS. New iPads will also support thumb drives and SD cards as well. These two features allow users to take large amounts of data from a thumb drive, edit it in an iPadOS-friendly application and upload it to iCloud storage with the new file drag-and-drop feature.
The UX of iPadOS also offers split screen multitasking features that can run an application while users navigate the home screen. While the iPad still has some shortcomings compared to full desktops such as smaller screen size, reliance on hardware add-ons for a keyboard and limited application selection, iPadOS makes Apple tablets a more viable workstation — especially for workers who travel or work remotely.
Apple announced the latest macOS version, macOS 10.15 Catalina. The SideCar feature of macOS Catalina allows users to connect their iPads to interact with the main desktop as a second screen. Users can extend their display to the iPad or even use the iPad as a drawing tablet for a desktop application such as Adobe Illustrator.
Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference this week showed some new iOS 12 features that could be exciting for Apple users in the enterprise.
Several features of the new iOS may help improve productivity for business users, by limiting distractions and improving workplace communications. Apple’s iOS 12 is expected to arrive in September.
Set screen time limits
Apple’s Health app, which focuses on health and wellness, is kicking it up a notch by allowing users to track and set limits on their phone usage.
To prevent users from receiving an influx of notifications, Siri will suggest users to turn off notifications. Support for grouped notifications enables users to assign levels of urgency to notifications categorized by topic and thread. A new Downtime feature limits users to only make and receive phone calls and access certain apps within a scheduled time period.
The new iOS 12 features could increase productivity for employees that are easily distracted by notifications. Fifty-five percent of employees listed their cell phones as their primary work distraction, according to a 2016 study from CareerBuilder.
“[These iOS 12 features] are meant more for management of phone addiction, but if the data can be extracted from the device, it may also prove useful for the enterprise,” said Jack Gold, president and analyst at J. Gold Associates in Northborough, Mass.
FaceTime extends its reach
Another of the new iOS 12 features, a new FaceTime capability allows up to 32 people in a video chat. This feature competes with third-party video conferencing apps such as Houseparty.
The new FaceTime interface includes tiles that expand and minimize based on who is speaking. This update could quell awkward silences and confusing overlapping of voices in large conference meetings — or it could just highlight the flaws.
“Some companies use FaceTime, so the ability to conference with multiple people at once might prove useful,” Gold said.
Apple brings back the walkie-talkie… sort of
In addition to the new iOS 12 features, there was news around the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch hasn’t made waves in the enterprise just yet, but a new app called Walkie Talkie could offer some interesting use cases.
The app allows users to send short voice messages to other Apple Watch users via cellular and Wi-Fi — a feature reminiscent of the ever-chirping Sprint Nextel of the mid-2000s. It could assist field service workers who want instant communication on the go.
“The consumer messaging space is powerful, and there are a lot of great features for consumers to communicate with each other,” said Stacey Epstein, CEO of Zinc, a mobile messaging provider in San Francisco. “The enterprise needs to catch up and have an enterprise sanctioned version of what the consumer space does.”
It’s no longer Citrix and Microsoft vs. the world in the MAM market.
Not too long ago, Citrix was the only third-party vendor that could manage Microsoft Office 365 mobile apps, and all the other major players promoted native OS-level mobile application management (MAM) through membership in the AppConfig Community. But over the past year, two of the market leaders — VMware, which co-founded AppConfig, and BlackBerry — added support for Office 365 mobile apps through the Microsoft Intune Graph API. And now, after flirting with the idea for two years, Citrix has joined AppConfig.
Upon first hearing the news, I cynically thought Citrix was trying to have its cake and eat it, too. They’re joining a group that supports open, standardized MAM, while they still support Microsoft’s closed MAM ecosystem and have their own proprietary XenMobile MAM? The nerve!
But after thinking more about it, I realized it’s a good thing for IT professionals that the MAM battle lines are blurring. Many organizations are going to need to manage Office 365 mobile apps through the Graph API and also manage other mobile apps through Apple iOS and Google Android’s native capabilities. The more vendors that support both, the more choices that IT departments will have. And Citrix wants XenMobile MAM to be in those discussions.
“We started to recognize that customers wanted to have that flexibility,” said Suzanne Dickson, director of XenMobile product marketing. “They’ve gotten a lot more sophisticated now. They have different use cases.”
XenMobile MAM has always been able to use OS-level controls, but the lack of formal AppConfig support hurt the product’s perception, Dickson said.
“It was sort of a checkbox thing,” she added.
Citrix’s road to the AppConfig Community
In the early days of MAM, a developer had to build a different version of their app for every MAM product they wanted it to work with. That was a tall task, so most apps ended up not being compatible with every MAM product. And instead of trying to sort it all out and purchase multiple MAM products to manage all their apps, a lot of IT departments just didn’t buy MAM at all.
When Apple added application management capabilities to the mobile device management (MDM) APIs in iOS, it opened the door for VMware, MobileIron, IBM and Jamf Software to form the AppConfig Community in 2016 and promote these features as a sort of standard. (Android also added its own OS-level MAM capabilities and later joined AppConfig.)
Citrix was in talks to join the consortium shortly after its inception but instead focused on XenMobile MAM — which, unlike AppConfig’s approach, does not require devices to be enrolled in MDM — and on its partnership with Microsoft.
Through that partnership, XenMobile provides additional features than just managing Office 365 mobile apps through the Graph API. Those include a Secure Mail app that Intune can manage and per-app VPN capabilities for other Intune-managed apps.
Citrix’s membership in AppConfig will not affect that partnership, Dickson said.
“We still have a really good relationship with Microsoft,” she said.
A little more than a year ago, we published an article titled, “Wanted: A way to block iOS updates.” Well, Apple administrators, want no more.
The upcoming Apple iOS 11.3 update will, for the first time, allow admins to temporarily prevent users from downloading and installing operating system releases on their devices. The restriction applies only to iPhones and iPads in Supervision mode, which requires Apple Configurator for some management tasks and is typically used in education and corporate-owned device scenarios; IT won’t be able to block iOS updates on personal devices through traditional mobile device management software.
Apple admins have said the ability to block iOS updates will give them time to test for application compatibility and operating system bugs before rolling out new operating system releases. To that end, Apple won’t allow them to block an update forever. The default delay is 30 days, and the maximum is 90 days. After the specified time period expires, all available updates will appear on the device for users to download and install.
The first technology for controlling Android OS updates, Samsung E-FOTA, hit the market last year. IT admins have long had the ability to control Windows OS updates on PCs.
Admins’ concerns about application compatibility and bugs are not unfounded, as there have been serious issues with iOS updates in the past. Most recently, a bug in the native Mail app in iOS 11, released last September, prevented users from accessing several popular forms of Microsoft-provided email.
Apple released the iOS 11.3 beta this week. Similar functionality to block operating system updates on Macs will be included in macOS 10.13.4, the company said.
In addition to the ability to block iOS updates in the iOS 11.3 update, Apple will give users the ability to override its controversial processor throttling on older iPhones. The company acknowledged last month that it intentionally slows down phones with old batteries, saying it’s to prevent the devices from crashing when the battery can’t keep up with processing demands.
The cynic in me still thinks Apple’s true intention was to encourage owners of old iPhones to buy shiny new, expensive ones. Either way, we’ll have the option to stop the throttling once the iOS 11.3 update hits general availability — as long as our IT departments don’t block that.
Changes in smartphone purchasing trends have hurt Samsung.
Samsung released the Galaxy Note 8 in the last two weeks of the third quarter of 2017, around the same time as Apple released its three latest iPhone versions 8, 8 Plus and X. Samsung mobile sales decreased by 6% for the quarter. Why? Because sales of cheaper mid-range and low-end smartphones increased compared to those of their more expensive high-end counterparts, and because of a decline in LTE investments from major overseas customers, Samsung said in its Q3 2017 earnings report.
The biggest problem for Samsung profits in the mobile market, however, is that consumers and business users alike keep their phones for about 18 months to two years these days, so there are fewer buyers for the company’s newer, higher-end phones, said analyst Jack Gold, principal and founder of J. Gold Associates in Northborough, Mass.
“The real issue in the mobile space is that people keep their phones longer,” Gold said.
End users used to buy every new model of a phone because the software and features were significantly better, which is still true between low-end models. The higher-end smartphones, however, don’t update features enough to make users want to buy the latest version.
Samsung may have more competition in the mid to low-end smartphone market, but its devices such as the Galaxy J7 maintain strong global popularity, according to Counterpoint Research. Samsung has difficulty competing against Apple’s iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, or 8 Plus with the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8 Plus or Note 8 in the USA high-end smartphone market, the firm said.
The dip in Samsung mobile earnings came from a lack of a new high-end smartphone for most of the third quarter, Gold said. The Galaxy Note 8 came out in mid-September.
“The Galaxy Note 8 is not brand new anymore, so the numbers are going to slip a bit,” Gold said.
As the largest provider of Android devices, Samsung is an established company in the mid to low-end smartphone markets, but most organizations support higher-end smartphone models for business users. Samsung is making a push to invest in next-generation technology — mostly 5G devices — as an attempt to appeal more to the enterprise market, the company said. Still, those devices could be a far way off.
“5G still has about two to three years before it hits the enterprise because there aren’t enough things like 5G cell towers to support widespread use,” Gold said.
Samsung Electronics CEO and vice chairman Kwon Oh-hyun stepped down in October, and the company announced three new CEOs will take over: Kim Ki-nam for components, Kim Hyun-suk for electronics and Koh Dong-jin for mobile and IT.
NEW YORK — We’ve talked a lot about BlackBerry’s shift from a device manufacturer to a software provider over the past few years. And when we referred to software, we typically meant enterprise mobility management (EMM). In that regard, the company’s transformation has gone well.
BlackBerry is one of the four leading vendors in the EMM market, according to the Gartner Magic Quadrant. And the BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Suite trails only VMware’s AirWatch in terms of market share, according to IDC’s MarketScape report for unified endpoint management.
John Chen, CEO of BlackBerry, and other executives stressed that the company’s vision goes far beyond securing mobile devices and PCs, however.
“I don’t want to be an EMM provider,” Chen said here at the BlackBerry Security Summit. “It’s a lousy market. If Microsoft wants the market, they can have it. We’re in endpoint management, the IoT world.”
CEO of BlackBerry acknowledges marketing problem
BlackBerry’s five-year goal is to be as synonymous with overall enterprise security as Salesforce is with CRM software or as Oracle is with databases, COO Marty Beard said. That will be an uphill battle outside of the vendor’s core customer base: government agencies, financial firms and other highly regulated companies.
To that end, BlackBerry established an enterprise software sales force and a channel, Beard said. But there are still significant challenges around marketing the company’s new identity.
Over the past decade, as the consumerization of IT took hold, BlackBerry lost significant mindshare among IT professionals — many of whom were once devout users of the company’s smartphones. Now, they don’t think about BlackBerry when it comes to making technology purchasing decisions, said an infrastructure engineer for a financial firm in the Northeast.
“You’ve got to build that muscle memory,” said the engineer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because his employer did not authorize him to talk to the media.
Chen also acknowledged this problem.
“Not too many people know about what we do too well,” he said.
Inside BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Suite
The BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Suite grew out of BlackBerry Enterprise Service, which originally provided secure email and management capabilities for the company’s own smartphones. Over time, BlackBerry added support for Apple iOS and macOS, Google Android and Microsoft Windows. The product also saw significant enhancements following the 2015 acquisition of EMM competitor Good Technology.
That deal “was a very necessary thing for us to do to express our commitment to the enterprise mobility software market,” said Chen, who took over as CEO of BlackBerry in 2013. “It has not been easy integrating the technology, but we finally did. … It was like two sinking animals trying to save each other, but we finally got it done, and now we’re in a good place.”
Today, the BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Suite also supports management of IoT devices and even connected cars that use its QNX software. And its Dynamics platform allows organizations to develop apps with management, security and collaboration features built in.
As the biggest standalone vendor left in the EMM market, MobileIron has faced questions about its future for years. Those will only intensify in light of the surprise departure of CEO Barry Mainz.
Mainz and the board of directors came to a mutual decision that he should leave, the company said this week. CFO Simon Biddiscombe will take his place as MobileIron CEO and on the board. The move came as MobileIron announced its preliminary financial results for Q3, which fell short of analysts’ expectations.
All of the other major enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors, with the exception of BlackBerry, are large enterprise software providers that offer a variety of end-user computing and IT infrastructure products. Most of them, including VMware, IBM and Citrix, got into the market by acquiring standalone EMM vendors. And even BlackBerry contributed to the EMM market consolidation by buying rival Good Technology.
Because of these market dynamics, acquisition chatter regularly swirls around MobileIron. By naming its CFO as chief executive, the company has added fuel to that fire.
“When you put in the CFO as CEO, you’re looking for a sale,” said analyst Maribel Lopez, founder of Lopez Research, on Twitter.
New MobileIron CEO faces uphill climb
Biddiscombe, who has been with MobileIron since 2015, does have CEO experience, however. He was chief executive of server and storage vendor QLogic from 2010 to 2013, when he resigned after a period of steady sales declines.
In his introductory letter as MobileIron CEO, Biddiscombe positioned the company’s standalone status as a positive.
“Our strengths are our focus and agility, and, as a result, we are better positioned than any other company to support our customers,” he wrote.
But focus and agility are not exclusive to smaller vendors. Mobility isn’t exactly getting lost in the shuffle at VMware, which is using AirWatch’s technology for lots of new innovations around workspaces and identity management, for example. MobileIron also has some weaknesses that Biddiscombe’s letter alluded to, including in sales and operations.
All in all, it’s clear that he’ll have some work to do to keep up with much larger competitors — if that is his goal, rather than priming the company for a sale.
Mainz era comes to an end
Mainz took over as MobileIron CEO from co-founder Bob Tinker in January 2016, following a challenging time for the vendor and the EMM market as a whole. The company went public in 2014, just months after rival AirWatch sold to VMware. Wall Street began to view EMM as a small piece of a bigger puzzle, and MobileIron’s stock price suffered, dropping from $9 at initial public offering to below $4 when Tinker stepped down.
Upon his hiring as MobileIron CEO, Mainz sent mixed messages about the company’s future, saying he’d “look at all offers” for an acquisition but also that “my plan’s not to sell.” Over the past 21 months, he managed to keep MobileIron on pace with its EMM market competitors; the company remained a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for both 2016 and 2017. And for a while, the stock price was on the way to recovery, reaching a high of $6.60 in June of this year.
But in July, around the time MobileIron announced Q2 revenue that missed Wall Street’s mark, the stock plummeted to the mid-$4 range, and it has hovered at or below the $4 mark since August.