What does the future of Windows Mobile look like?

Lumia 950 XL
Microsoft who originally launched their first smartphones back in 2002, compared to both Apple and Google (launching in 2007 and 2008 respectively) have been in the smartphone game a lot longer than their main competitors, but looking at their current marketshare they look more like the underdog.

By 2007, Microsoft’s smartphone platform was the most popular in the US, but this quickly faded after Apple and Google entered the market.  Today, these numbers are at an all-time low with US marketshare of Windows Mobile (and Windows Phone) down from 4.8% in early 2015 to just 1.6% at the end of December 2015. In the UK, Microsoft is in a much healthier position of 9.2% with iOS at 38.6% and Android taking the lions share with 51.9%.

With Microsoft continuing to struggle in its home turf and its marketshare slipping away in spite of the launch of its new Windows Mobile 10 platform and phones late last year, the question again arises – what does the future of Windows Mobile look like to Microsoft?

Despite both the loss in marketshare and revenue from Windows Mobile, taking a look at Microsoft’s more recent tablet-laptop hybrid Surface Pro may provide some answers.

In their recently announced quarterly fiscal results they revealed an impressive $1.35 billion in revenue generated by their Surface line, up from $1.1 billion the same time last year.  The now very successful Surface line is headed by Panos Panay who also recently took the lead on their Windows Mobile division. The most recent Microsoft flagship phones the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL launched under his leadership, however they would have been designed and developed before this time. On its announcement, the new feature which had the most time under the spotlight was Continiuum, which lets you plug up the phone to a monitor, keyboard and mouse and use it like a PC. The apps you have access to in this mode are the same as those available when using a phone and these will scale as needed to the screen plugged in.

Looking ahead to where the future of Windows Mobile lies, there have been rumours for some time of Microsoft working with Intel to get Windows Mobile working on x86 processors (the same ones that power their laptops and PCs) and even more recently x86 support was listed on their manufactures design guideline specification for Windows Mobile, although this information has since been pulled from their site.

With Panos Panay currently developing future Windows Mobile devices, alongside the next Surface models, we may see the next Windows Mobile flagship branded with the Surface stamp, reserving the Lumia name for both low and mid-range devices in the future.

A Surface flagship phone could see a Surface-like premium metal build and include an x86 processor, meaning when in Continuum mode, it can also run full PC applications in addition to scaling mobile apps.  As well as using full PC apps on your phone, a more unified brand could make Microsoft flagship phones easier to market and sell to consumers with the simpler name ‘Surface Phone’ compared to the current ‘Lumia 950’.

The future of Windows Mobile may look bleak now, especially in the US, but with such a heritage with smart devices and the very successful launch of Windows 10 on PCs they can’t be dismissed.

Apple’s iOS 9 update hints at a bigger iPads for the office

Split_View

This Monday Apple held their annual Worldwide Developer Conference announcing upcoming features and services across their devices.

Arguably the most interesting development was for the iPad, finally allowing true split-screen multitasking to the tablet.

Like many Apple updates the amount of functionality you will get will be depending on which model you own, with only the iPad Air 2 being deemed sufficient to run the full experience called Split View.

The new feature comes as part of iOS 9 and will allow iPad users to launch two Apps at the same time divided by a vertical split in a very similar vein to Windows tablets. iOS 9 also allows apps such as video to be displayed in a floating windows above your current app.

These new multitasking features will help further validate the use of iPads in businesses, being able to both check emails and edit a document at the same time.

Splitting your view does allow you to get more done but it does also make your workspaces smaller.

The announcement of Split View also gives credence to the much rumoured 12” iPad, this will allow the iPad to go toe-to-toe with Windows tablets and potentially squash their momentum with their own market share.

It is likely we will see a 12” iPad Pro launched within the next 12 months and similarities to this and the Surface Pro line will definitely be drawn. With both potentially having similar design and form factor the true battle will be between iOS 9 and Windows 10.

Whilst Microsoft has proven Surface can replace your laptop can Apple do the same for the iPad?

This week’s technology news – 23rd May 2014

Duh! How not to manage mobile phone security
If ever there was a perfect storm around Mobile Device Management, the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson, could safely be said to have been at its apex this week. The well known British journalist lost his mobile phone whilst off duty watching a football match at Manchester United. Ordinarily this would have been a mere inconvenience, but when your phone contains the mobile contact details for most of the Cabinet, including the Prime Minister, it’s more than just an ouch of embarrassment! The BBC have not given further details about whether it was their corporate issued device, or Nick Robinson’s personal mobile. No.10 are treating it as a “serious security breach” and it is being investigated also by the Information Commissioner. Whatever the case, the BBC’s security governance policy should cover all devices for those staff who carry sensitive data of any nature, in which case they could have shrugged it off lightly with a mere remote lock and wipe.

Telemetics uptake in Transportation offers better security and customer service
The drive for logistics operators to make their business uber competitive, with ever economic solutions, cost-savings and service-led delivery has just got a step closer with the increased adoption of telematics for the industry. Longstanding operators and one of the first pilot customers, Logistik in XXL use the TC eMap® software with an integrated tracking function and software from telematics provider Daimler FleetBoard to which it is linked and which helps make the process transparent. MD for Logistik in XXL Volker Asche, comments: “Our dispatchers are able to determine the whereabouts of the goods in real time, optimally plan routes and inform customers about the location of the cargo. Via Daimler FleetBoard’s connection to TimoCom’s freight and vehicle exchange, the whole fleet is displayed on only one screen making complicated switching between different apps a thing of the past. In addition, protracted telephone calls with drivers are spared without limiting the information flow”. This ability to locate the vehicles automatically on the exchange adds to customer trust with the increase in offering of security measures, all of which emphasises the importance of effective mobile device management across logistics organisations to safeguard their door to door service.

More job cuts at HP bring count to 50,000 under Whitman
Hewlett-Packard’s second quarter results are out, and the picture is not pretty. Off the back of this HP announced another 10,000 to 16,000 job cuts are imminent. This brings the total of layoffs since Meg Whitman became CEO to a staggering 50,000. Besides this unpleasant news Meg Whitman said that the HP turnaround remains “on track” during an earning call, we also learned that the turnaround is now at its midpoint. The job cuts are primarily coming from HP’s services, an area they have struggled in recent years. The long-term turnaround is based on less reliance on low-end PCs and increased sales of high-end servers. Which of course makes a lot of sense on paper, but is a lot easier said than done. At this point it is uncertain how well the HP turnaround will go in the long-term and hopefully we have seen the last of the job cuts from HP for a long time.

Third time’s a charm: Surface Pro 3 Impresses
With Surface Pro 2 launching just last October Microsoft caught many off-guard when it announced its successor, the Surface Pro 3 this week. The Surface Pro range does not chase after the iPad market and instead has defined itself by the difficult balancing act of being both a tablet, when on the go and a laptop, when in the office. The Surface Pro 3 is shaping up to be the best realisation of this concept thanks to several clever updates. The Pro 3 is both lighter and thinner than the MacBook Air, touts a new 12” screen and battery life is up to 9 hours. In an uncharacteristic move for Microsoft, pre-orders went live the same day as the announcement. Will these upgrades be enough to finally tempt corporations to exchange their laptop and tablets for Surfaces? For most, not yet, but Microsoft has given us the most convincing argument for device convergence yet, a strategy that could not only increase security, productivity and mobility – but also reduce management and admin costs.

surface3

This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 27th September 2013

Trolling around for something patently new
The habit of patent trolls buying up patents to sell back to practicing tech companies as a cash cow exercise (whilst not making anything themselves), has been prolific and costly in the States. Patents in the US encompass more abstract concepts than are allowed in Europe. With an estimated bill of around $29 billion in direct costs and legal fees in the States, the advent of a new European unified patent scheme after 30 years, has stirred Google, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, HP, Blackberry, Cisco, Deutsche Telekom, Intel, Yahoo and others into collective action to seek clarification on bifurcation and injunctions before rollout. It would be refreshing to have the tables turned on the trolls for burden of proof to avoid costs, disruption and commercial disputes that will only harm the consumer.

Blackberry has a buyer
Blackberry’s search for a buyer may be over as Fairfax who owned 10% of Blackberry stocks have proposed an offer as part of a consortium to purchase the company. With a £3bn deal on the table, Blackberry’s official stance is that they will continue to explore all options whilst negotiations continue. However, with 4,500 jobs cut last week we may see a decision made sooner rather than later. A buyout may be music to Blackberry’s ears, but it does not guarantee success as the competition is getting ever stronger and the gap between Blackberry and Windows Phone has grown substantially. Blackberry will need more than just extra cashflow to stand a chance of fighting back to become a leader once more in smart phones.

Old habits die hard
Following the recent launch of the new Galaxy Note 3 smartphone, it would appear that Saumsung are bringing something old and not so savoury to the table with their recent product launch. Despite pan European regulations introduced in 2012 to broaden access and reduce prohibitive roaming charges across states, Samsung have locked the Galaxy Note 3, preventing use of local networks or SIM cads outside Europe other than for emergency calls. Hopefully a groundswell of protest from Samsung’s customers will bring the “global” back to GSM in this sorry story.

Next generation Surfaces
Microsoft this week announced the follow ups to their first tablet, called Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. Whilst both devices look similar to their predecessors, they are more powerful, with better displays, thinner and most importantly a 75% increase in battery length. Microsoft is still bundling Office with the entry level Surface 2 and buyers of either will get 2-years of 200GB Skydrive storage and 1 year of international calling with Skype. With cheaper prices to the originals, Microsoft is being very aggressive with a combined Hardware and Software approach, which it needs if they hope to steal either mind or marketshare from Apple and Google in the tablet market.

Surface_2_Amicus_ITS

Top technology news for MSP’s

Can 4G resolve problems with on-the-go access to data?

The continued rollout of new wireless network, 4G, is expected to give users the fastest broadband in Europe.  With speeds of up to 5 times faster than the previous 3G, how will 4G impact desktop virtualisation? We believe the new wireless network may help aid the adoption of desktop virtualisation on mobile devices, allowing users to remotely access their information more often and at a much faster rate.

Google back ‘one password’ strategy

With the huge increase in cyber-crime and phishing attacks, Google thinks it’s time to say goodbye to the traditional password and look to something new.  Google’s security experts, Eric Grosse and Mayank Upadhyay, propose consumers use an encrypted USB-like device that people would use to log into password-protected websites and online accounts. The web giant stated how the miniature device could be used to log into websites with a single password.  We understand that with the great challenge this poses to governance procedures, this is far from being put into practise. However it does highlight some critical issues in the current online environment. 

What can the Surface Pro offer a Business Environment?

Microsoft have announced their much anticipated Surface Pro tablet will be released at the later than expected date of 9th February in the U.S.  This latest tablet has been one of the top talking points for IT professionals over the last couple of months, but to what extent can the Surface Pro make a significant business impact in your organisation? We predict a noteworthy one.  With its incorporated Windows 8 OS and its ability to access the same business applications as you can on a laptop, the Surface Pro is destined to see the rise of mobility at work.

Nokia 3D printing for phones

As competition in the mobile market becomes fierce, mobile operators are constantly coming up with new innovative ideas to make them stand out from the crowd, and Nokia’s 3D homemade case is no exception.  Embracing 3D printers, Nokia have released design files so users can ‘make their own’ plastic accessories.  With the current hefty price tag of 3D printers, will users miss out on the Nokia’s latest innovation?