Something more important than BlackBerry
Hundreds of millions of people survive today without mobile e-mail. Contrary to what you see and hear in the news, technology does not always lead to productivity. I can give a dozen examples where face-to-face communications are better than the telephone, and I can give another dozen examples where the telephone is better and faster than e-mail.
The problem isn't the technology. It's the fact that the technology is poorly implemented and that users select technologies that continue to distract them without making them more effective. For example, the mobility industry vilifies the "top down" approach of IT management, instead talking about user choice and device selection. Many industry insiders continue to evangelize the leadership of the "power user."
IT departments serve an important function. In addition to solving technical challenges, IT departments are responsible for identifying and deploying information technologies with the greatest impact on the bottom line.
But we're falling short, across the board. Last week, Day-Timers, Inc. released a study that concluded that Americans work more, seem to accomplish less.
February 24, 2006
BlackBerry injunction - No news is no news
No news - either way - on the BlackBerry injunction. Starting next week, we'll be in sudden death overtime with the Court able to announce its decision at just about any point in time.
Great. No answers. No injunction. No permanent stay. Nothing but more uncertainty.
February 23, 2006
Blogging, Rhetoric and The Sound of Reason on BlackBerry
So much of the NTP/RIM debate has been useless drivel. A large part of this disfunction has been the fact that reporters haven't taken the time to do the most basic research into the matter. Whenever RIM issues a press release, the business and trade press simply reprints the release, usually saying something like, "in a statement issued today, RIM executives..."
And nobody ever questions RIM's statements. There's no interview. There's no reporting. It's meaningless "he said, she said."
I've been vocal in this matter, because these same reporters aren't asking the most basic of questions. RIM says the company has a workaround, but it's a mistake to assume that everything RIM says is true, like whether the workaround is "legal" or whether it will deploy with "zero impact on users." The irony here is that - while the media is consuming RIM's PR as "fact" - enterprise IT departments are asking the hard questions.
This has placed me, and the MEA, in a difficult position. I've been trying to point the press in a direction that's aligned with the way IT organizations look at the world. To accomplish this, I've written some heated posts on this site, and I've discovered that so-called "angry" posts get more traffic. Yes, the research into the court docket was ignored. The research into IT departments was ignored for a month. And my analysis sat fallow for another six weeks.
But the "angry" posts are the popular ones. My February 9 post entitled BlackBerry Work-around: Too Little, Too Late For IT Departments, has become increasingly popular in recent weeks. With that post, I have said enough. The IT press has caught up to enough IT managers who are evaluating alternative mobile e-mail solutions, and everyone is moving forward.
Let me address three things here. The first is my so-called "anger." The second is a piece of reporting that I think is what we should have seen starting in November of last year. Finally, there is the whole objective of blogging.
February 22, 2006
Podcast: 3GSM 2006 Update
The inaugural podcast is a recap of 3GSM 2006...from an enterprise perspective.
February 20, 2006
It's the service, stupid: Dual-mode devices in the enterprise context
We've been told to believe that everything in IT comes back to the device. This is true to some extent given how much computing power we have available to us for so little money these days. For example, a decade ago, personal computers didn't have the ability to handle telephone calls without the addition of a dedicated card for that purpose. Today, that card fits on a chip in our built-in sound card, and just about every computer, and most PDAs can handle Skype calls.
Despite these capabilities, within enterprise IT departments, many of the services that workers have available to them are a direct result of resources residing within the corporate network. Corporate fixed-mobile convergence and VoWiFi/VoWLAN are good examples of these types of services -- for these things to work, IT has to get involved.
So you can understand my confusion when I saw a release for a report that argues that "Dual-Mode Cellular/WiFi Device Will Drive Enterprise VoWLAN Growth." According to the abstract, the report contends that the availability of dual-mode mobile devices will drive adoption within the enterprise.
What doesn't add up is that the devices are useless without accompanying carrier services to provide seamless roaming between cellular and VoWiFi. No such services exist today.
Some will argue that IT departments can provide the devices and that both the cellular number and the office number will ring to the device. The cellular number will use the cellular network. The office number will use the WiFi network. And both radios will be "on" at the same time?
It still doesn't add up. A more expensive device with shorter battery life. Two telephone numbers. Two call routing processes. Why wouldn't the enterprise just do signal improvement on the cellular network and get rid of the PBX altogether? Why spend the money on a cellular subscription and a 1FB for every user?
In the end, IT managers just aren't buying that VoIP is "something for nothing." That's what vendors have been selling for quite some time, and the VoIP revolution hasn't happened. The reason for this is simple, corporate telecoms managers know that there are no free lunches, and they're wary of anyone who tells them otherwise.
I like VoIP, and the technology has a lot to offer. But VoIP vendors are still selling their products as bits and pieces of technology. The availability of dual-mode cellular/WiFi devices isn't going to drive fixed-mobile convergence without an accompanying set of carrier services and a compelling business model for the transition.
February 18, 2006
10,000 Worker deployments: Enterprise mobility in full force
For several years now, the enterprise mobility industry has been wrestling with the difficult realities of mobility. On one hand, there are the BlackBerry users -- executives, managers, and technology lovers who have the coin to spend on an expensive device and an expensive service.
But mobile e-mail has never really defined what enterprise mobility is all about. When you spend your days talking to IT managers, you learn that there's a parallel universe where IT departments see boundless benefits to giving mobile devices to workers in the field. These benefits come from two major activities:
- Data entry: adding and updating information electronically to what has traditionally been a process of paper forms followed by third-person data entry. The paper-based process has a lag time of a day or more, and it is fraught with errors.
- Information access: providing mobile workers with up-to-date information about customers, inventory, enterprise data, technical drawings, etc. In many cases, this information is updated on a daily basis, not real time.
For these activities, e-mail may be useful, but it's not necessarily the most important thing. These are workers who have to interact, face-to-face, with customers every single day. In this parallel universe, that's where IT departments see the biggest benefits to mobility. Bigger than BlackBerry. Bigger than mobile e-mail. And it's bigger for two reasons:
February 17, 2006
Is UMA a "Skype Killer?" February 17, 2006
Only the services will tell. I spent several hours yesterday on the show floor at 3GSM. After talking with a woman in the Nokia booth and playing with the newly-announced 6136 phone (no Bluetooth, she says), I went over to find Steve Shaw at Kineto Wireless to get the straight story.
Yes, it's an 802.11 radio in the phone.
And this article provides a better window into the upcoming services. It mostly discusses the BT Fusion offering:
Orange spokeswoman Caroline Ponsi declined to give details of the company's pricing plans for the service. BT Fusion bills an Internet call to an ordinary landline at about 3 pence (4 euro cents; 5 U.S. cents) per minute in peak hours, on top of the basic monthly subscription charge of 9.99 pounds ( 14.59; US$17.37).
The service so far has about 13,000 subscribers and is gaining about 2,000 each month. A BT spokesman said Fusion is not marketed as a VoIP service and is not in direct competition with Skype.
"With a Skype phone you can't just walk out of your house and maintain your call," Giles Deards said. "It's the wrong comparison to make."
Which is the right way to position it. You currently can't take Skype with you, and most of the Skype users I know use the service because international roaming on their cellular phones is cost-prohibitive, especially for calls to family and loved ones.
Also in the hopper is some research into the TeliaSonera announcement. I had a VP from TeliaSonera on my panel discussion, and he was talking a lot about telephony, then came the announcement.
But at the right price, a UMA service may offer a viable alternative to Skype for traveling business users.
February 16, 2006
Modern myths: E-mail explosions and BlackBerry "Killers"
When I was a kid, there was this local high school teacher who spent his spare time tracking Bigfoot. He drove a Jeep, kept a boa constrictor in his classroom, drank Coors, and used the thinly veiled excuse of "hunting for Bigfoot" as a way to get his students to spend the weekend camping in the woods. It was a seventies version of the proverbial snipe hunt.
Today, the concept of an "urban myth" is well-understood, and instead of taking plaster-of-paris castings of large footprints in the woods, we're using blogs to make our point. My clipping service picked up some re-hashed news on the SonyEricsson M600 announcement, calling the device a "BlackBerry Killer." While on the site, I saw another article entitled "Mobile E-Mail Set To Explode," and I couldn't help to feel the hype. Killer explosions are making enterprise mobility an exciting topic!
Killers and explosions should really be the last things on our mind when talking about mobility. When killers are around, I think I'd prefer to use a more apt mobility tool -- like my feet, or a car -- instead of sending an e-mail. And there are times, I'd like someone's e-mail inbox to explode, but that person is likely a spammer.
But these two concepts are urban myths in their own right. The BlackBerry killer and the rapid expansion of the mobile e-mail market. Below, I address these two myths.
Report from 3GSM: A contrarian view
Many people have weighed in with their impressions from the 3GSM 2006 World Congress here in Barcelona. Here are mine:
- Skype stinks. I love the user interface, and I love the price. It works great for checking voice mail. But for real conversations, it's worse than a satellite telephone. My problem is latency -- there's just too much of it for me to have a decent conversation with a reporter. By the time we figure out who's talking, we've often lost the flow of the discussion. Given the cost of media relations...and the cost of lost opportunities, using Skype in this context is penny-wise and pound foolish. After dropping the same call three times, I picked up my cell phone and bit the bullet.
- 3G to Wi-Fi interworking - it's about time! The MD of the Wi-Fi Alliance had an article in the show daily in which he wrote that 3G and Wi-Fi should work on providing users with the ability to roam from one network to another. Isn't it a little late to start working on this one? iPass, winner of the GSM Association's award as "top enterprise mobility product" (?...yes...it's befudlling, so I'll leave another question mark?) does not offer this capability. Meanwhile, the only company that provides any 3G to Wi-Fi interworking, Equant, wasn't much mentioned.
- UMA: Where are the services? Nokia made a big flap about rolling out UMA-capable phones. That's great. Where are the wireless services that support UMA?
- "Wireless Data" versus "Mobility." I was talking with a leading exec in the industry, and he started asking me what our enterprise speaker knew about "wireless data." My response: "It's not what he knows about wireless data, it's what he knows about mobility." This is the biggest disconnect in this industry. Carriers look at everything as wireless data. Enterprises manage mobility. There's more support for that bitpipe argument against the carriers.
- VoIP in the WAN. 3 in the UK announced a Skype service. In contrast, many U.S. carriers forbid VoIP on their 3G networks. Several show attendees told me that they "didn't mind" manually switching between Wi-Fi and 3G in order to facilitate mobility.
Will a broader range of users take the time to manually switch from one network to another? Cellular has proven otherwise.
And I remain skeptical. The sentiment here in Europe remains that user choice is the future of the industry. This, coming from an industry that has been wrong about...just about everything (3G, consumer adoption, device features...etc.) appears to be more misguided groupthink.
Actually, the one thing that GSM set out to do -- global roaming -- is technically possible. It's just cost-prohibitive. If Skype succeeds as a mobile product, it won't be because of stellar product development. It'll be because wireless operators have created the opportunity and let it happen.
February 15, 2006
Unstrung on Skype mobile enterprise
In a refreshing change of topics, Dan Jones at Unstrung has a piece about "Skype's Mobile Appeal." This is a very important topic.
Jones is able to find a host of vendors in Silicon Valley to talk about how great it will be to use Skype on a growing number of dual radio mobile devices. In this extremely limited context, this assertion makes sense.
certain tech-savvy enterprise organizations are interested in using the application [Skype] to cut their business phone bills.
And many enterprise organizations already are, though they probably don't know it. Many traveling business users are sitting in hotel rooms in foreign countries using Skype on their laptop. Of course, they're charging the hotel broadband to the room (expensed as "travel" not "telecommunications" in the budget) and they're paying for Skype Out with a business credit card.
The discussion of Skype in business contexts has become a confusing topic for two very specific reasons:
February 14, 2006
3GSM 2006: Enterprise Session
Today, I'm chairing the enterprise session at 3GSM World Congress 2006. Our session, entitled "Selling Mobile Solutions To The Enterprise" will have a real, live IT decision-maker from outside the telecommunications industry for the first time at 3GSM. Steven Tiley is the Head of Information Services at McDonald's in the UK, and I'm looking forward to his presentation.
Also presenting will be Jim Balsillie, Chairman and Co-CEO of RIM. In last year's engaging presentation, Balsillie made two statements that stuck with me.
The first was that he wanted to see more enterprise activity at 3GSM. At the MEA, we've been working hard within the industry to make that happen, and I'd like to learn more about what RIM's been doing to raise enterprise awareness.
Second, RIM has been vocal about the company's desire to become a "platform" company, calling BlackBerry "middleware." In 2005, BlackBerry devices comprised 69.2% of the RIM's revenues. The company's 2006 annual report should be due out in the next few weeks, and it'll be interesting to get a preview of the direction in which RIM's product mix is heading.
February 13, 2006
Dutch Rail case study
This 10,000 worker case study is worth a mention. With so much focus on mobile e-mail, and BlackBerry in particular, the numbers tell the story of the kinds of workers that comprise the future of enterprise mobility.
February 10, 2006
RIM reveals details of its work-around technology
Research In Motion disclosed details of its workaround technology, designed to enable the RIM BlackBerry service to continue if an injunction is awarded when the court hearing RIM vs. NTP sits on February 24. RIM has developed the workaround as a contingency against the injunction, although it is still saying publicly that an injunction is unlikely.
Overview of the workaround technology
The workaround involves the installation of a software update called the "BlackBerry Multi-Mode Edition". The software update itself has not been released, only details thereof. RIM's overview document (PDF, 5 pages, 116 KB) on the Multi-Mode Edition says the following:
- The workaround technology applies to converged voice/data BlackBerry devices in the US, connected to either a BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BlackBerry Internet Service.
- The software update significantly changes the underlying message delivery system and message queuing system in order to not infringe on NTP's patents. There is no visual effect on the BlackBerry experience for an end user. There is also no visual effect on the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, although due to changes in the message queuing system (see below) there will be additional server log entries created and recorded.
- The Multi-Mode Software supports two modes of operation: the current way (what NTP would call "NTP Infringement Mode") and the workaround way. When inside the US with a BlackBerry powered by a US service provider, the workaround way is used. When outside the US and receiving service from a non-US service provider, the current way is used.
- The workaround requires the installation of a software update on BlackBerry devices and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. It seems as though the update will be provisioned over-the-air to BlackBerry devices, but this is not made entirely clear. The software will be made available at no charge.
- Under the workaround, the RIM Network Operations Center (NOC) will cease to queue messages that can not be delivered because a BlackBerry device is turned off or out of coverage. The NOC will return the message to the appropriate BlackBerry Enterprise Server, and it will queue the message until the NOC notifies it that the device is back on. When this happens, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server will record a log entry.
RIM said that it commissioned a legal analysis of the workaround by a leading expert in patent law and workarounds, and the resultant legal opinion is that the workaround does not infringe on any of NTP's patents. That is a good starting point to provide comfort to current and prospective customers, although NTP is sure to challenge the validity of the workaround if the injunction is awarded.
Analysis and thoughts
A couple of thoughts about making more details of the workaround public:
- It is good to see RIM talking publicly about the details of the workaround. As we've said previously on this site, RIM needs to do as much as possible to clear up confusion and uncertainty about the workaround.
- If the injunction is awarded, customers will need more details about how the workaround effects the operation of the BlackBerry service. Is it slower? Does it use more bandwidth? Is it less secure? For those tech-heads that want detailed information, they will need to know what exactly has changed in order to evaluate the new service.
- RIM should make this software available to IT departments now. They will want to test and evaluate it, and not have it forced down their throats at the last minute. In all fairness, RIM should have made this software available months ago.
The whole RIM vs. NTP debacle is going to become fodder for (a) case studies on patent law at business schools, and (b) case studies on how not to handle emergency situations.
Further reading from RIM
"RIM BlackBerry Multi-Mode Edition" (aka 'the workaround website'), BlackBerry
"RIM Announces Workaround Contingency for BlackBerry Customers", RIM Press Release
"BlackBerry Multi-Mode Edition Preview Announcement: Frequently Asked Questions", RIM White Paper (PDF, 2 pages, 44 KB)
Coverage from elsewhere
"RIM Reveals work-around for BlackBerry", InfoWorld (also comments on the "feeding frenzy" among other push email providers)
"BlackBerry Work-around: Too Little, Too Late for IT Departments", Mobile Enterprise Weblog
Author: Michael Sampson, Shared Spaces Research & Consulting Ltd.
What is Visto up to? A question of strategic intent
On December 14, 2005, Visto announced a patent licensing agreement with NTP, the patent holding company which is engaged in a high profile patent infringement case with RIM. One day later, Visto filed a patent infringement case against Microsoft, claiming misappropriation of Visto's intellectual property. Microsoft offers push-based wireless email capabilities in Exchange Server 2003. Visto said that it was seeking a permanent injunction to prevent Microsoft from using its intellectual property. And on January 31, Visto filed a second patent infringement case against Good Technology, and seeks the same outcome: a permanent injunction against Good's use of its intellectual property.
Intent: Wound opponents
Why is Visto doing this? Why is it doing it now? To determine what it is up to, and why it is following this path, let's step back and consider the key decision facing BlackBerry users and IT mobility managers: what alternative platform will we embrace if RIM is closed down? And what is one of the key decision points that will be being discussed: if we embrace the platform under consideration, what is the risk that we will have to switch it out due to another patent infringement ruling? You can be sure that if push-comes-to-shove with RIM, enterprise IT mobility managers will not want to be forced to switch out a new acquired platform for something else because of another patent infrigement filing. The change from BlackBerry will be costly in terms of new wireless email server software and new devices, not to mention the productivity cost and retraining expenses for staff and executives.
One natural alternative to RIM is Microsoft. Proper push-based wireless email is going to be added at no charge to Exchange Server 2003 once the technology is finished. Organizations could elect to wait for that. While Microsoft does not appear to have a licensing agreement with NTP, it has the financial wherewithall to pay up if required. By suing Microsoft and seeking a permanent injunction, Visto is attempting to muddy the waters, sow fear, uncertainty and doubt, and raise questions over the validity of Microsoft's technology and approach.
Another natural alternative is Good Technology, which has been in business for a decent number of years (vendor stability), has a solid product and approach (product maturity), and works with a collection of devices (no device vendor lock-in). Unlike Microsoft, Good does have a patent licensing agreement with NTP, taken out no doubt with the strategic intent of calming fears on the behalf of its customers and prospects. As with Microsoft, Visto's patent infringement case thrusts a dagger through Good's defenses, thereby weakening them as an opponent in the eyes of a prospect. The conversation might run as such:
IT Manager: "In summary, Good's technology looks good, and it works with a variety of devices. They also have a licensing agreement with NTP, so we've covered our bases there. I recommend that we proceed with a Good implementation."
CIO (looking up from computer screen): "Well it was a good idea, but Visto just filed a patent infringement suit against them. It's too risky now. You'll have to get rid of them."
IT Manager: "Okay. I'll check out Visto then."
So what should Microsoft and Good Technology do? One option is to settle immediately. Call Visto. Set up that meeting. Determine the price. Pay up. Issue press release. Etc, etc. That would remove the competitive and psychological benefit that Visto holds at the moment. The second alternative is to counter-sue for patent infringement. That would negate what Visto has done to each of them, and call into question Visto's own viability in the eyes of enterprise IT mobility managers. With Microsoft's vast hoard of patents, it shouldn't be too difficult to find something that is potentially infringing. One would hope, for Good's sake, that they have patents covering their inventions. If not, the situation doesn't look (good?) bright.
As a final word, I speculate that Visto is feverishly working to pull together a similar patent infringement case against Nokia/Intellisync, another very natural alternative. Perhaps Intellisync should sue first.
Author: Michael Sampson, Shared Spaces Research & Consulting Ltd.
February 09, 2006
BlackBerry work-around: Too little, too late for IT departments
At 6:30AM on February 9, 2006, RIM issued a press release describing - in broad strokes - the work-around that the company has claimed to have for some months now. I have no idea why RIM has waited several months to issue this press release. And I have no idea why they'd bury the release on a Thursday.
Actually, I do. It's past deadline for most weeklies, so this story will fester over the weekend and won't get any in-depth coverage until sometime next week. But next week is a major industry trade show: 3GSM 2006, so RIM is hoping to slide this one by, only getting positive press.
But this announcement is an insult to virtually every BES administrator in the United States. Every bit of RIM's PR is focused on preserving service for vocal "users," but the timetable here is impractical...if not impossible for most IT organizations. On one hand, RIM is pandering to BlackBerry users while demonstrating a lack of respect for the IT departments that select, deploy, administer, manage and pay for BlackBerry.
Why? Two reasons
- Legal advice
- The Timetable for IT departments
RIM's press release should not be construed as legal advice for RIM customers. If your company has a BlackBerry deployment, you should contact your corporate legal department immediately. Your corporate legal department will represent your interests. They will also tell you things that RIM hasn't mentioned in their press release. If you haven't done so, develop an IT plan for each contingency tied to a possible legal outcome.
The timetable for IT departments
RIM has published a web page with information about the work-around. Most users don't know that - for BlackBerry to work - there is a computer within their corporate data center running a piece of software known as BlackBerry Enterprise Server, or BES. This piece of software is the thing that makes BlackBerry e-mail a "push" service synchronized with a user's mailbox.
These data centers are run by IT managers who follow "best practices" for running information technology organizations. Common best practices for new software installations -- even so-called "patches" -- include extensive testing of the new software to make certain that it doesn't conflict with other software on the devices, on the servers and on the network.
In two weeks, there's a hearing on the injunction. That's February 24. If the judge decides on the injunction on February 24, it will take effect in 30 days.
Meaning that the injunction would go into effect on or about March 26, 2006. That's six weeks from now.
Mobility Minute for February 9, 2006
This week's podcast addresses two topics on the upcoming mobility calendar.
- 3GSM 2006 in Barcelona (week of Feb 13)
- Hearing on the U.S. BlackBery injunction (February 24)
I'd like for an injunction to not be a continuing topic here, but it continues to hang over enterprise IT. And there is a growing level of misinformation in op-ed pieces. We continue to see articles and blog postings saying that "an injunction isn't going to happen," when the facts at hand fail to demonstrate -- either way -- what's going to happen at this time. Trusting English majors for opinions on legal decisions is a bad way to run a business. IT managers with mission-critical BlackBerry deployments should continue to act as if an injunction will happen.
February 08, 2006
Measuring the enterprise
I got an e-mail today from a reporter seeking to answer a basic question: what percentage of BlackBerry licensees are business users? It's a simple question that doesn't have a simple answer.
As a recovering analyst prone to occasional relapses, this happens to be a question for which I've sought an answer. We're currently working on an enterprise mobility backgrounder document, and despite the fact that we know virtually every analyst in this space, we're finding that there are a number of gaps in the research coverage.
For example, yesterday I wrote about mobility policies that couple a worker with:
- a device
- a set of enterprise applications
- network connectivity
- management, AND
for each worker/device combination.
And research firms are excellent at telling us the number of PDAs or smartphones shipped last quarter. But it's far more difficult to get meaningful resolution into questions like who is buying these devices? and how are they using them?
February 07, 2006
Policy: The first step in securing mobile devices
In many aspects of IT, it's easy to get dragged into technologies without first thinking about the big picture. Yesterday's article on SearchMobileComputing.com about best practices for securing mobile devices is an extremely valuable resource explaining how to secure laptops and other mobile devices.
Reading through this piece, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. There's a lot to do, and there are a numerous technologies to consider. But - as I was reading - I kept asking myself the following questions:
- What kinds of workers are we talking about?
- What specific kinds of devices are we talking about?
- How can I break this down into discrete bits?
Because it's one thing to secure a laptop for a traveling manager. And it's another thing to develop and implement a security policy for a ruggedized handheld on a shop floor.
Without a mobility policy, none of this is going to make any sense. So before we start talking about how to secure mobile devices and data, we need to establish what the mobility policies are for any given company.
February 06, 2006
A comeback for pay phones?
Emily at textually.org has a post about how there is a proposal in my home state, Maine, to bring back the pay phone. Recently, I've been spending a lot of time in Maine, and the Globe article to which she points only begins to scratch the surface on the underlying issue.
That issue is that cellular has an underlying set of economics, and rural states with extremely diverse populations cannot support the cost of numerous cellular networks. Wireless coverage in Maine is spotty at best, and dismal once you get out of York and Cumberland counties (the southernmost and most populous ones). From there, cellular pretty much follows I-95. Verizon has the best network, and GSM users can roam onto Unicell (USA 890) pretty easily.
But Maine is a place where pay phones still make sense. If you're off the highway and need to make a phone call, chances are good that the cellular network isn't available (the odds are about 70%), and that's the time to dig out the calling card, buy yourself a bottle of Moxie and start dialing.
I'm not hoping to put calling cards into the topics that we include under mobility, but they're still an important part of business mobility for professionals outside of traditional cellular coverage areas.
So next time you're complaining that you don't have 3G service at home, count yourself fortunate to have a wireless network in the first place.
February 04, 2006
BlackBerry and the Super Bowl
As we come into Super Bowl weekend, I read a commentary that gave me pause for concern. It was a piece about the impending RIM injunction that placed the blame on the judge in the case. Richard Martin at Unstrung does some excellent work. So you can understand my surprise when he wrote a piece on his blog entitled "Judge to BlackBerry users: Drop dead."
Martin's writing style is convincing, and were I not well-acquainted with the court documents, I could buy the story that the judge just "has a bone to pick" with RIM. It's like the story I saw about how the Seattle Seahawks deserve to win the Super Bowl. According to Martin, if the Court imposes the injunction against BlackBerry, it's because of the judge. Before the call is even made, in typical Super Bowl fashion, Martin is already preparing us to blame the referee.
This is a legal case with possibly significant ramifications for millions of BlackBerry users in the United States, and many of us are concerned about the outcome.
February 1, 2006
Zipcar shifts into high gear
Here's some additional coverage on 2005 MEA Mobile Impact™ Award winner Zipcar. This interview with Roy Russell explains a little more about how the company built their computing platform: Zipcar shifts into high gear.
Roy Russell is vice president and No. 1 IT guy at Zipcar, a Cambridge, Mass.-based company that is six years old and profitable with annual revenues of $15 million. He's also married to Robin Chase, company co-founder. Chase and her business partner, Antje Danielson, brought a European trend -- hourly rates for rental cars parked in city neighborhoods -- to the states. Talk about managing traffic. Russell has to make sure 50,000 registered members can share 900 cars in 28 cities across the country using wireless access cards. Today technology provides Zipcar's competitive edge. Here Russell talks about the early Zipcar days, as well as his new lost-and-found service.
And here's a link to the Zipcar case study from the Awards program.
When we designed the Awards program over two years ago, this was our objective. Submit the case studies. Judge them. Announce the winners. Publish the case studies. Use the case studies to get articles written. Use the case studies to get speakers into industry events.
The above story is an example of a resulting article. And on Friday of last week, we got a call from an event manager looking for a speaker from another award-winning case study. This is good stuff all around.
Harnessing Application-Enabled Mobile Devices
The pre-launch of the DualCor cPC last month got me thinking about something that had been sticking in the back of my mind. For the past two years, I've been listening to Intel plugging the development of software designed for the mobile environment. And last summer, I had a conversation with an IT manager at Intel who disparaged the very concept of middleware. Half an hour later, I was talking with an IT architect at Sun who felt that middleware was very important to mobility.
What didn't make sense to me was the fact that one of the most popular enterprise mobility solutions today is BlackBerry Enterprise Server -- a product that RIM is happy to call "middleware."
I can understand the long term implications of computing architectures built around middleware platforms, but that doesn't address the practical realities that IT managers face today. Those realities include existing investments in enterprise applications, large numbers of mobile workers, spotty network coverage and extremely large deployments of mobile telephones.
In order to harness the capabilities of applications-enabled mobile devices ranging from cell phones to PDAs, laptops and hyper-portable devices like OQO and cPC; it's necessary to understand why there's a market for mobile middleware in the first place. Below, I identify three primary reasons:
Editor's note: The opinions expressed on this page are those of the writer, Daniel Taylor, and not necessarily those of SearchMobileComputing.com or TechTarget.
Any questions or comments should be sent to Assistant Editor Jeff Kelly.