What is all this talk about enterprise app stores about?

Iced tea at Georgia's, version 2We are moving into app economy and that is happening very fast. There are many predictions on the marketplace on this trend with Gartner forecasting that 25% of enterprises will have their own enterprise apps stores for managing corporate-sanctioned apps on PCs and mobile devices – all this within 4 years. Others are saying that this is already happening and it won’t take four years. Whatever the case is, ISVs needs to pay attention to this as CIOs in large organizations need to take control of the situation with deployed apps both in tablets as well as smart phones.

I think there is a big misconception in the word “app” when thinking about business models. Many relate an “app” to small apps used by smartphones with either free or almost free business model. These are mostly consumer-focused apps, but the trend is that consumers will be using their smartphones to conduct business using apps, but these apps will be connected to backend cloud solutions that bring the scalability and logic to the game. Look at an app as just the UI to full-blown solutions where end users can run their business with small devices or tablets and use the cloud infrastructure as foundation.

The forecast for App Economy is huge and according to APPNATION, App Economy is going to reach $151B by 2017. What it really means for ISVs and any software developers organization is that they need to really get a better understanding how app economy is going to impact them going forward. CIOs will be asking questions how an ISV will support enterprise app stores and how the ISVs will support these app stores with their solutions. I am a bit amazed how little there is discussion off apps in our workshops but I think this is going to change going forward. Based on the study by APPNATION, the majority of mobile device owners under 45 years are using video apps and this supports my previous blog entry of eLearning.

There will be a need for both consumer-oriented and enterprise-oriented apps stores and it will be a space that will bring new opportunities for many players. The competition in this space will be based on innovation of solutions that people want to use and the use is measured on how much content the apps consume from the cloud. It is not rocket science, but it is a new world that people need to get used to.

In the end of the day, apps will have to be monetized in one way or the other and that is where the subscription economy comes to play and organizations need to understand how to price their solutions and all this based on value pricing.

Will your web-site work with different devices?

It surprises me how few software vendors have realized to change their web-site to work with any type of mobile or tablet device. Almost a year-and-a-half ago I made a decision to make things simple and base my web-sites on technology whereby I do not have to think about different devices, the web-site technology will take care of it and I can focus on content.

During the history of our company, we have had many attempts by having external designers doing the web for us and we ended up having an everlasting fight to keep our web-site compatible not only with different browsers, but also different devices. Every time we needed to change something on the site, it was a major hassle and it seemed like having a house or cards that would collapse as soon as anything was touched. It was time to move on and change the approach. I bit the bullet and decided to make a chance and  research what would be the best platform to base our  consulting company and our educational portal on. I looked at many different factors such as richness of component ecosystem, reviews from industry analysts of pros and cons of each CMS and also how our web-site would be integrated to our Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Online that has become the heart of our daily lead management.

I ended up with WordPress as the foundation and a big plus was also that Microsoft supports WordPress on Windows Azure platform so it became and opportunity for me to learn Windows Azure Internet Web Sites technology as well. We had invested quite a lot of time and effort into DNN (DotNetNuke) in the past, but I felt that WordPress gave us the simplicity what I was looking for and the huge ecosystem of software plugins and themes made it as an easy selection. There was absolutely nothing wrong with DNN, but I just felt that WordPress was the right choice for us at this time of our company evolution and that is why I ended up changing horse.

I listed all of the needed functional elements that our site would have to support and I spent time looking for the right theme that would support our multi-device and browser requirement. Once those had been selected, the rest was just execution. All of our sites have commercial skins that are updated by the designers to include the latest and greatest features of the platform and the WordPress can be managed from my Lumia Nokia device using an app that support WordPress backend.

In the end, what I ended up is having following things when moving to our new web-site technology:

  • Simple and well-known CMS technology (WordPress) with thousands of commercial themes and plugins
  • Support for any type of device  either via an app or via native browser
  • Scalable backend server technology by using Windows Azure
  • Simple and fun to use CMS solution that just “make sense”
  • Lots of third-party integration solutions that can be applied to our web-site
  • Etc.

My new mantra “keep it simple” has really worked in our new strategy and I will be writing more about our modules that we are using to run our business in later posts.

I was forced to study Facebook privacy settings and this is why

I got my shiny new yellow Nokia Lumia 920 that has really made mobility a pleasure again. I waited for a new device that I could comfortably replace my BlackBerry Bold (brand that I have been using the past 7-8  years) and Lumia 920 became it. I was mostly concerned about the missing keyboard and some of my friends said that I am a dinosaurs as keyboard is really a thing of last century… that is what they said… and they were right… there is really no need for a physical keyboard at least with Lumia 920.

Since the last two weeks, I have been taking beautiful pictures from Texas Christmas, some of them during the night with amazing results. Lumia 920 camera is really the first mobile camera where I do not have to carry my pocket digital camera.  Following picture was taking with my Lumia when Skip (Lowchen, little lion dog) was wondering what this white stuff is all about…

WP_20121225_007

Today, I really started to wonder that nobody made any comments on some of the pictures… (maybe this is Facebook addiction…) and then I realized something… All of the entries that I had made are defaulting to “Me Only”… so I have been taking pictures for myself, myself only… sweet…

I could not find any settings on my Lumia that would change it.. neither just by reading and browsing Facebook settings…. but as with everything in life.. somebody else must have had the same issue and I found this in a blog entry where somebody has found out what the issue was:

Facebook-Privacy issue-001

As the text above says, if you are a former BlackBerry user and have used the Facebook App for BlackBerry, you might have issues…. When I found my settings, this is how it looked like:

Facebook-Privacy issue-002

With the change, I want my friends to see what I am posting, so it looks like this now:

Facebook-Privacy issue-003

I still can’t believe that I missed this when I started using my new Nokia 920, but this is of course not the issue with my new phone, but with some legacy stuff and how Facebook has its privacy settings done. This also gave me an opportunity to really learn more how things are shared in Facebook so the same things does not happen to me what happened to Zuckerberg’s sister this week.

ISV wakeup call: Cloud and mobility will surge in 2012 according to IDC

I run a seminar in Finland at Microsoft Finland office 23rd of November for Microsoft ISVs about the transition to the cloud and what it means for software vendors overall. One of the key things in my messaging for ISVs is that they have to look at the cloud together with mobility going forward. This morning I run into an article in Information Management web-site where IDC predicts that mobility and cloud will surge in 2012.

It is easy to agree to this based on what we have seen in our work and research specifically in the US continent. IDC predictions are based on 1000 IDC analysts and according to this study, cloud spending will top $36 billion next year which is four-times the overall IT industry rate of growth.

Another interesting statement from IDC chief analyst Frank Gens is that there will be a “generational shift in the tech platform adoption and innovation” which could according to him lead to a worldwide IT spending of $5 trillion by 2020 and all of this based on mobile tech and the cloud.

Based on hundreds of discussions with independent software vendors (ISVs) around the world we have seen a clear shift in the urgency of many ISVs to ensure that they are on the right bandwagon concerning the cloud. My colleague, Juha Harkonen has been analyzing the trends for quite a while and the observations that he has made are very interesting. You might want to check some of his observations from his excellent blog.

 

 

 

It was a brutal day today for HP (Hewlett-Packard): it kills its tablet business (HP TouchPad) and is exiting PC business

Many of us is still pondering on the Google Motorola Mobility deal and today we (WSJ.com) heard that HP it’s quitting its PC business by a spinoff. At the same time, HP is shutting down its tablets and smartphone business so we can now say goodbye to HP TouchPad for good.

Yesterday we could read that Best Buy management wants to return 200k units back to H-P as they have not been able to sell more than 25k of TouchPads.  That is tough for HP. I remember blogging and commenting on H-P acquiring WebOS and Ari Jaaksi to become Senior Vice President for WebOS. Ari used to work in the Nokia Meego project previously and his blog can be found here where he has been commenting on the WebOS development.

What is intriguing in this overall news is that the tablet or hardware business has become a commodity low-margin business and IBM realized this a few years ago when selling its PC business to Lenovo. HP wants to do the same thing, focus on software and services and leave the low margin business to others. A sign of this HP has offered to acquire U.K. enterprise software firm Autonomy Corp for $10.25 billion. I just listened to CNBC and some analyst was skeptical about this decision specifically now with the change of strategy to exist the PC business. Also, the analysts conclude that an European software executive Leo Apotheker is buying another European which might make it easier. Only time will tell.

What should be concerning to HP and its upcoming earnings is that by announcing the fact that they are getting out of PC business might have an impact in their sales in similar fashion what Stephen Elop has experienced with Nokia smartphone sales that are based on Symbian. He became famous with his statements of a burning platform.

The similarities between Elop’s and Nokia’s departure from Symbian can be seen similar to that of HPs decision to leave PC business. The market will view things from viability perspective and acquire and purchase things that have a life. Symbian is on life support, WebOS has a dire future as HP is abandoning it so as far as I am concerned we are left with three players in the mobility/tablet space. I do NOT believe in other platforms such as Bada from Samsung. They are just too late with something new that the development community would be excited about. There is just a limit of how many platforms ISVs can support and Bada won’t be one of them.

That is why I really think that the mobility space will now be between Apple iPhone/iPad, Google Android and Microsoft Windows Phone and the upcoming Windows 8 with a tablet.

The question will be how this news will impact Dell, Acer and other similar companies? Will this have a positive impact on these vendors from market share perspective or are we in a down-spiral in respect to PCs as the market and market analysts are claiming? There is no question that Apple iPad has become a major player with more than 25 million delivered and some analysis (not IDC) are already counting iPad in the same category with a PC/laptop and with this calculation, Apple has become a major player.

I do not think the news today about HP will be the last one we will hear about the turmoil this fall. I expect that there will be further consolidation in the mobility market as well as PC markets. Time will tell what it is.

Do you agree with my conclusions?

Did Google find out that open source does not pay out as expected?

Here we go again. The mobility world is changing with Motorola Mobility being acquired by Google for $12.5 billion. This was widely reported this morning when I woke up. Doug Barney from Redmondmag.com concludes that this move from Google might anger device manufacturers. My personal belief (that many other analysts support) is that Google woke up to realize that it might be good to make money on the phone business and not have it “free” as it is now.  The fallacy of open source might have finally caught up even with Google….. It could be that Google executives also realized that the winning formula is about ecosystems and  not only about the operating system as Galen Gruman conclude in his blog entry today.

I have stated in many of my writings that I do not believe in the open source model for an ISV and there are many reasons for it. One reason is obvious: the more success you get, you will have patent trolls suing your ass with our without reason. I have seen it so many times and it is frightening. Yes, large companies do the same thing to each other, but I guess the reasons are little different. Large companies can afford lawsuits but for the small ones this can be a death sentence.

Another reason has to do with valuation of the company in case you want to sell it in the future. There is no question that a company with real IP has more value that the one that assembles things from pure open source. In some cases this might be OK, but if you want to build something that has real value, some pieces have to be closed from competition to view it. I have been part of software organizations that have been sold (both as CEO and as Chairman of the Board) and there is no question in my mind that the buyer is interested in where the code (and algorithms) came from. I am sure there is a place for open source as well… If I had to start a company today, it would not be based on open source.

The announcement from Google to acquire Motorola is has caused a stir in the marketplace with speculation of whether Microsoft is now going to buy Nokia to have the same situation with Google. One blog entry suggested that even RIM might be a target now, but based on CNBC analyst interview this morning, RIM does not bring any additional value to the table so the market does not expect them to be bought up. This is going to be a race between Apple iPhone, Microsoft Phone and Android.

How should we now read the market and the intentions from these three players? Nokia’s share shot up 10 percent today: maybe Nokia will also be bought and or Android will be loosing attractiveness to players such as HTC and Samsung that are now going to compete directly with Google in hardware design and manufacturing. Interestingly, I read today from the news that Apple has ordered 95 million iPhones for the fall and Samsung is going to be one of the largest manufacturers, which makes this game very interesting. Samsung and Apple are fighting for the same markets and are in fact even in a lawsuit on patent infringement but still doing business together. Go and figure out……

The Business Insider blog entry today concludes that the deal between Google and Motorola might end in a disaster mainly because of Google stabbing HTC and Samsung in the back by now competing against them. At the same time, Microsoft now became the only big player that does NOT manufacture its own handsets and this could potentially be really good for Microsoft and Microsoft Phone future. It could be that Microsoft ends up also acquiring Nokia going forward, but this is purely my own speculation. Some bloggers from ZDNet think this would be the most logical option for Microsoft. It seems that the embedded software/hardware design ala xBox Kinect could work well where Microsoft would design the best handset to be optimized with Microsoft Windows Phone operating system. This is probably what the Nokia-Microsoft partnership is trying to do.

Another interesting perspective that Galen Gruman provides is to claim that Android really isn’t open source and now with the Motorola deal we are most probably going to see more closed sub-systems within Android that Google will not disclose from algorithm perspective. Gruman also concludes that the Android open source system development does not have an iron fist to make decision like it has in the Linux development environment with Linus Torvalds in the helm. Failed attempts such as Moblin, Maemo and MeeGo are examples of open source mobile platforms that never really got the traction that the platform needed.

What today’s acquisition confirmed to me was that the future of smartphones really does not have anything to do with just to operating system, but it is about software ecosystem and how software developers, handset manufacturers can manage the user experience. Nobody besides Apple is making really serious money on smartphones today as the entire market has matured and margins have come down.

IT IS ALL ABOUT ECOSYSTEMS AND FIGURING OUT WHERE EVERYBODY WILL PROVIDE VALUE.