PC and Mobile: There Can Only Be One Industry, As Lenovo’s Rumored Purchase of HTC Reiterates

Rumors have been swirling for a couple of months that Beijing-based Lenovo might purchase New Tapei, Taiwan-based HTC Corporation. Following Google’s acquisition of Motorola and Microsoft’s purchase of (most of) Nokia, the move could make sense, given Lenovo’s stated strategy of becoming a “PC-Plus” company with a new focus on mobility.

As I predicted recently, there will be a forthcoming wave of industry consolidation. But what we mean by “the industry” is itself changing. My colleague Frank Gillett has been tracking this evolution for some time, having asserted in 2012 that the analytically sound way to look at operating systems combined mobile and PC OSes. There’s no separation, effectively, between PC and mobile hardware vendors. It’s one industry now.

Geeks Will Know: The Photo’s From Highlander

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Wearable Computing For Enterprises Could Be Bigger Than For Consumers

Wearable computing devices (like Google Glass, Jawbone Up, Nike+ FuelBand, iHealth, and Samsung Galaxy Gear, among others) have made a big splash in the consumer market. My colleague Sarah Rotman Epps’ analysis shows that Google Glass could be the next big App Platform. Fitness wearables might be a bit overhyped, but it’s nevertheless becoming common to see people sporting Nike+ FuelBand devices everywhere you go. No less a tech industry luminary than Mary Meeker recently declared wearables the next wave of computing (see slide 49).

Exciting as the consumer wearable space is becoming, I’d like you to turn your attention for a moment to an example from the enterprise space -- specifically, the Connected Law Enforcement Officer Of The Future, as posited by Motorola Solutions.

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Incremental Improvements Make Microsoft Surface Better, But Go-To-Market Strategy Will Determine Success

On September 23rd, Microsoft launched its next generation Surface and Surface Pro devices with a splashy media event in New York City. The improvements to the hardware and software of both models are largely incremental – though that doesn’t obviate the value of these releases, since gradual innovation has long been an industry hallmark, particularly for Microsoft.

WHAT DIDN'T HAPPEN:

Let's start by looking at what didn't happen: 

  • First, the struggling Surface (which runs Windows RT 8.1, though this fact is downplayed) hasn’t disappeared from the lineup, despite poor uptake and Microsoft’s $900 million financial write-down last quarter. It's been given a sucessor, the Surface 2.
  • Second, despite the hype around 7" and 8" Windows 8.1 devices (for example, from Acer today... and many other OEMs in coming months), Microsoft hasn't chosen to enter this market. Given the popularity of smaller tablets, this qualifies as a bit of a surprise.
  • Third, there was no radical rethinking. No crazy, innovative, out-of-the-box disruption. That's not necessarily bad, but it's noteworthy.
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Transform Tablets Into The Ultimate Sales Tool With Augmented Reality Apps

I recently spoke with metaio, an augmented reality solutions provider based in Munich, Germany. The company develops both enterprise- and consumer-oriented augmented reality solutions for smartphones, tablets, and -- increasingly -- for Google Glass.

Although metaio creates augmented reality applications for a wide variety of usage scenarios – enterprise tools to assist assembly lines, factory floors, design studios, and consumer shopping experiences for IKEA and Macy’s – I’m particularly struck by the potential of augmented reality for use by sales reps.

SCENARIO 1: AUGMENTED REALITY AS A SALES ENABLEMENT TOOL

At their best, augmented reality tablet applications can reshape the entire sales process. Metaio created an app for Mitsubishi Electric Cooling and Heating to create a new interaction model between salesperson and homeowner. Prospective buyers considering Mitsubishi’s mini-split, ductless central air systems must install wall-mounted units in various rooms of their home. “The number one question prospective buyers ask is, ‘what is that unit going to look like on my wall’?” said Sudhanshu Kapoor, Business Development Manager at metaio.

Using the augmented reality app with an Apple iPad, homeowners receive a vivid representation of what the unit will look like, as this video demonstrates.

 

Results:  (1) A richer customer experience during the sales cycle. (2) Allayed fears among buyers who worry what the units will look like. (3) A faster sales cycle, performed on site. (4) Higher close rates and revenues. (5) Lower printing costs for sales collateral.

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Google Is Poised To Revolutionize Consumer Retail

Infrastructure professionals are now all too familiar with the dynamics of bring-your-own (BYO) technology and devices: Their workers walk into the office with consumer technology all the time. This post is one in a continuing series on how consumer retail stores act as de facto extensions of the IT department in today's BYO world.

The rumors have abounded for more than six months: unconfirmed whispers that Google will open up its own major chain of consumer retail stores. The company has dipped its toes into the retail waters with Chromebook-focused kiosks in the U.S. and the U.K. over the past few years, with installations inside larger retailers like Best Buy, Dixons, and Currys.

A Google Kiosk in the U.K.: Not Yet Reaching Revolutionary Heights

Yet while kiosks – particularly those staffed by Google employees – offer some value in promoting Google’s products and services, the company has a much greater opportunity for late 2013 into 2014. Kiosks aren't going to foment a retail revolution. To quote the popular Star Wars geek meme, "these aren't the droids you're looking for."

No, it's time for Google to think big  to go gangbusters. To do something nobody has done as well previously. Why is this imperative?

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The Coming Wave of PC Industry Consolidation

Microsoft’s recent purchase of Nokia affirmed the company’s entry into the hardware business, which now forms a core component of its “devices and services” strategy. That journey began with entertainment devices (like the market-leading Xbox and the now-defunct Zune), continued with the Surface and Surface Pro Windows 8 devices, and reaches its logical conclusion with all of Nokia’s smartphones.

Microsoft’s move cements and validates a number of trends in the computing industry:

  • All the major platform players have gotten into hardware. Apple is of course the most vertically integrated platform player, creating hardware, operating systems, and software for its ecosystem. Google is in the hardware game too, having acquired Motorola in 2011, partnering to produce Nexus 4, 7, and 10 devices, and, most tantalizingly for the future, selling Google Glass. Amazon makes its Kindle and Kindle Fire HD devices, which are tightly coupled with its content and services. Even Facebook tentatively experimented with hardware in its collaboration with HTC on a Facebook Home phone.
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Microsoft’s Next CEO Will Contend With Mobility, Platforms, And Consumerization

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced today that he will be retiring within 12 months. My Forrester colleague Ted Schadler laid out some of the strategic challenges his successor will face in coming years. Here, I add to Ted's analysis.

Microsoft remains one of the great global technology companies, a solid member of the Fortune 50. Although it no longer enjoys the reputation for innovation it did in the 1990s, it’s a critical player in every aspect of end user computing (including devices, software, browsers, development platforms, and services) and of other technology product and service markets.

As CEO, Steve Ballmer solidified Microsoft’s stronghold in enterprise solutions. Microsoft built and maintained — or built and made itself into a key challenger — in several enterprise markets. Microsoft Office remains a titanic success, even as it faces lower-cost competition from Google and others. Windows Azure has been cultivated into a full-fledged contender in the cloud services market. Exchange remains entrenched in enterprises, as do many of Microsoft’s Server and Tools offerings. Microsoft remains the company to beat in some of these markets, and has become a formidable challenger (e.g. as Azure takes on Amazon Web Services) in others.

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Q&A with Stephen DeWitt, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Marketing at Hewlett-Packard

I recently spent an hour with Hewlett-Packard executive Stephen DeWitt, a longtime leader at the company who is currently leading up HP’s enterprise marketing efforts. I wanted to learn more about the value proposition of products and services HP is selling to infrastructure & operations professionals and to understand HP’s vision of the future for enterprise customers.

“It’s easy to think of HP as a ‘PC and printing’ company – and we’re obviously a huge player in those traditional product areas – but we have a broader vision for enterprises and for workers…all built around the new style of IT,” Stephen told me. “Our new enterprise campaign, for example, is going to introduce people to the degree of breakthrough innovation we are providing customers today, and how co-innovating with HP can empower your business in the dramatically changing world ahead.”

To give you a deeper sense of how HP serves its enterprise customers, here are some edited excerpts from our conversation:

Q: What’s HP’s overall vision for enterprise solutions? How do you make that vision tangible and concrete for your customers?

HP is a portfolio company, from core to periphery, from cloud to the device. We work very closely with our customers to provide end to end solutions rather than just ad hoc or best of breed products, and we focus on solving for business outcomes and co-innovating with our customers.

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Our Collaborative Computing Future: Oblong’s Mezzanine

When people think of futuristic user interfaces (Forrester analysts included), they often invoke the 2002 Tom Cruise movie Minority Report. The imagery in the movie offers a compelling vision of how next-generation technologies – gestural control, voice command, 3D visuals, multi-screen interactions – can empower computing experiences.

Where did Minority Report get this vision? From a man named John Underkoffler, Chief Scientist at a company called Oblong. He designed the computer interfaces in the film.

I had the pleasure of visiting Oblong’s Boston office recently, where I saw demonstrations of several technologies. Most interesting to me was the company’s Mezzanine offering, an “infopresence” conference room that the company sells to enterprises today.

The solution involves equipping a conference room (or multiples – it works as a long distance telepresence location) with a number of monitors (5 in the room I visited), teleconferencing equipment (industry standard products work well), and ceiling-mounted sensors (for interpreting gestural controls), and a whiteboard (a physical one, but visible to a camera). Workers control the room with a wand, which works via both gestural controls and a button.

Putting all of these things together, workers can collaborate both within the room itself and with remote teams (or remote individual team members). The resulting experience, in my view, offers two sets of benefits:

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Global Business And Consumer Tablet Forecast Update, 2013 To 2017

In our new reportMichael O'Grady and I outline our latest update of the tablet forecast. While in previous years we focused on the North American consumer market, this year’s report expands the analysis to include our viewpoint on the global market for both consumers and businesses

Forrester Research ForecastView Trends

Fundamentally, as we have been writing about for some time, we believe tablet sales and penetration will continue to grow rapidly. In developed markets, they will streak past “mass market” status to become what we term “mainstay” devices – a third form factor carried by most online consumers. Our forecast indicates that tablets have hit hyper-growth. By 2017, we find that:

  • In North America (US/Canada), 60% of online consumers will own a tablet by 2017, making it a majority device. In Europe, 42% of online consumers will own one. While penetration rates won’t reach even 25% in aggregate in the developing world by that date, tablets will reach majority status in leading Asian markets like Singapore and South Korea.
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