Tag: iPhone

What is and what is not a mobile strategy

There is no doubt that there is a boom of applications, the so called “apps”, available for mobile devices. Organizations of all types, private or public, for profit or not, big or small, have embarked themselves in a fever to develop mobile applications. Many of these organizations (because of its leaders) are showing a lack of vision, a misunderstanding of how technology and management of information might be able to transform them in a meaningful way. A way that could be measured and most important, that has a real impact. Impact can be more sales, lower costs, increased customer satisfaction,… or even a combination of all of them.

Managers in these organizations think, and behave consequently, that porting existing applications into mobile devices is great and the way to go. In some cases these actions are helpful but they are far from reaching their maximum potential. Being able to do a task or gather the same information that I can get from my laptop in my mobile device (smartphone, tablet, etc.) is a nice touch but that’s it. I live in a college town, Madison (Wisconsin), with a great university and a great community. Those in charge of the information technologies have developed “Mobile UW” a mobile application, graphically well designed and that provides useful information (directory, campus maps, news, buses routes and schedules, events calendar,…). This a nice first step that many organizations embrace but now it needs to be taken to the next level if we are really serious about transforming the organizations and consequently their impact.

The real value of mobile strategies surfaces when it transforms the way the organizations function as well as the way the organizations interact with their stakeholders (customers, suppliers, employees, etc.). Porting existing applications to mobile devices might be a nice way for developers to learn and master their programming skills. Transforming organizations does not start within the departments of information technology. It must come from within the rest of departments and units, that together with stakeholders, agree in a new way of doing business. It is after that when we develop the means to put it in practice. Continuing with the same example: the University of Wisconsin – Madison has wonderful spaces available to students, citizens, employees,… such as the Memorial Union, The Wisconsin Institute of Discovery, Union South, etc. that can be used for more and bigger things. I was reading on-line comments and feedback regarding the student orientation, advising and registration service which seems to be great but it seems clear that could be taken to a next level while providing a more personalized and even better service without the constrains of a limited office space. These ideas do not have to come from the department of information technology but from employees, students, etc. of those services (those who do the work every day know it better than anyone) and then it is the IT department the one who has to implement it.

We have to make sure that information technology departments are there to provide services to the organization and not to drive the way business should be done. A mobile strategy, as strategies in general, are designed to achieve a particular goal. Being able to use my mobile device instead of my laptop is not really a goal (it alleviates my back though). A real mobile strategy will redefine the way we work, the way we interact with ours stakeholders, the spaces we work in, the way we live our lives…..it will provide a real transformation.

How the Apple iPhone is leading the way against Blackberries and the rest of the smart phone industry

In the November 24, 2008 issue of Fortune magazine there is an article that briefly explains what Research In Motion (RIM), maker of the Blackberries, is trying to do to maintain its current dominance in the smart phone market in the US (Up to July 2008 its market share was 50% and it was the same for 2007).

Their latest, and most advanced model, Storm, went on sale this week in the US through Verizon Wireless. This model has pretty much every feature that you can imagine (GPS, Media Player, Browser, Camera and Video Recording, Voice Activated Dialing (VAD), Multi Band, etc.) but one of the strongest selling points is a “feeling” on-screen keyboard. They call it SurePress Touch Screen, which is a subtle click that lets you know the letter has been entered. In the Fortune article they also mention that a big feature, compared to the Apple iPhone, is that the Blackberry Storm has a removable battery. It is also mentioned that, immediately after the creation of a $100 million fund for iPhone applications, the Blackberry Partners Fund was launched with $150 million to spur new software development for Blackberries.

If a new kind of on-screen keyboard, a removable battery and $50 million more on venture funds is the strategy to maintain RIM market share and to cope with the iPhone and others (mostly Android-based T-Mobile G1 and unlocked Nokia E71) I honestly believe they don’t get it.

Although, from a practical point of view, a removable battery would be a nice feature for the iPhone I look at it differently and as follows: if the battery is going to last me for two or three years it is quite likely that, by then, I would have already upgraded myself to whatever new iPhone or other smart phone is available at that time.

I do not have any figures but it is my guess that many, if not most, of the hundreds of iPhone applications already available have not benefited from the $100 million venture capital fund created for that purpose. I believe it will be the same for the Blackberry one if indeed they are able to attract developers to the platform.

You will not find here a criticism for the Blackberries. I have been a user, a happy one, for many years and it has always been a great tool for me. It was the company that I work for who got me an iPhone (they decided to get rid of blackberries and moved to iPhone but it was becasue of an issue with carriers and prices rather than devices themselves).

It is certain that, up to now, the iPhone is not as efficient for me when sending email messages as any of the multiple blackberries I have had in the past. But, yes, but all the other things I am getting from the iPhone such as a nice and smooth web browsing experience, hundreds of, mostly not useful, applications that I enjoy testing, my music and pod casts, my pictures, games, etc. are much better than the, so far, unsuccessful attempts Blackberry has made. Yes, the latest blackberries have many, if not all the features, that the iPhone provides but they are not as smooth and nicely integrated.

I am not, and do not pretend, to be an expert on Marketing or Design but there is no doubt that Apple knows how to do and market nice products. They also provide them with additional factors that make them attractive. Factors such as coolness (as an expression of admiration and approval), slim design, easiness of use (as low or null level of difficulty. No training or manual needed), smooth integration with desktop software, etc.

Apple has already attracted many of the non-corporate users (made the smart phone market bigger) and now is trying hard with the corporate customers (gaining market share from RIM) by providing E-mail, address book and calendar integration with Exchange, corporate IT Management and Virtual Private Network (VPN) capabilities.

Despite I believe that Blackberry email capabilities are still superior to those of the iPhone the rest are not. Software applications and media handling (music, movies and pictures) are far better on the iPhone than on Blackberries. My guess is that iPhone market share will continue to grow. Let’s revisit in a year to find out where things stand.