In Forrester’s Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey, Q4 2011, we learned that 60% of information workers use their devices for work and personal tasks. This dual use of PCs, smartphones, and tablets is a growing concern. One common idea is to create a virtual machine on mobile devices, in the same way that Citrix, Microsoft, and VMware products enable hosted virtual desktops on PCs. But this idea of having a “virtual smartphone for work” within your personal smartphone simply won’t work; it’s just as bad and impractical an idea as having two separate physical smartphones! Both approaches create separate spheres of work and personal that simply don’t reflect the seamless way that many people have to switch back and forth between work and personal tasks (excluding top-secret government work, of course).
I heard about a better idea this week. What if mobile device OSes enabled separate containers or sandboxes, under the covers, for enterprise applications and their data?
The idea is to have low-level separation in the OS architecture, supported and controlled by enteprise policy and certificates, that is transparent to the user. So the screen full of icons would allow us to mix work and personal icons any way we please, but they’d be separate under the covers. So the experience would be like that of looking at the overall address book on your smartphone, which on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone all integrate your contacts from different sources into one seamless list — even though they are separate on the back end.
Apple has already announced that it’s got 100 million signups for its personal cloud service, iCloud, and repeated that today. Now Apple supports movies — in addition to TV shows and music — in iCloud. Apple added PhotoStream to iCloud support in Apple TV, including the previous black Apple TV, with the new Apple TV software update. With the new iOS iPhoto app, I believe Apple will use iCloud to sync albums and the new journal information that displays weather information from the date a photo was taken — although full support will probably require an update or new version of iPhoto on the Mac.
Apple’s vision of personal cloud deeply integrates across Apple products and a wide range of personal and purchased content, including books and iTunes U-class materials. It’ll be interesting to see if the company opens up any API access. My hunch is that Apple will create tools and an app store for iCloud to interact with the personal content in the service rather than do large-scale API access.