Earlier this week SAP acquired Sybase for $5.8 billion. Blogs from my colleagues Stefan Ried and Holger Kisker primarily address the database and business analytics components of the acquisition. However, it is important to recognize how prominently SAP emphasized Sybase’s success as a mobile middleware platform and solution provider as a key driver of the acquisition. SAP highlighted the importance of extending mobile applications to billions of mobile users worldwide over any device as a strategic imperative. Forrester’s 2010 survey of IT decision makers in nearly 2,000 North American and European enterprises highlights the critical role of mobile applications and smartphone devices in corporate strategic initiatives. When it comes to mobile applications, 45% of enterprises prioritize supporting more mobile applications for out of office users as a critical or high priority in the coming year, and 33% state that supporting more mobile applications for employees who work in the office is an important or critical priority. In addition, supporting the use of more smartphones is an important or critical priority for 44% of enterprises.
The Sybase acquisition will enable SAP to deliver mobile applications to the growing number of individuals using mobile devices and smartphones. Sybase has a suite of mobile solutions including the Sybase Unwired Platform, a mobile client development platform which supports device platforms including RIM, Google Android, and Apple iPhone. The Sybase 365 mobile messaging platform supports messages for over 700 enterprise customers, including many leading communication service providers. Mobile assets account for about one third of Sybase’s $1.2 billion revenues, and are the fastest growing segment of the business.
HP acquired Palm for $1.2 billion in cash, ending recent speculation over who would purchase the struggling handheld device manufacturer. On the surface, this acquisition appears to bolster HP’s mobility strategy with Palm’s webOS mobile operating system, carrier relationships, experienced mobility personnel, and intellectual property.
However, if you look under the hood, this acquisition has a key flaw. HP currently offers iPAQ PDAs and handsets that use Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system, but these devices have had limited success among enterprise users. Will acquiring Palm put HP in a strong position against other competitive mobile operating systems vendors? Not necessarily. In Forrester’s survey of over 1,000 IT decision makers in North American and European enterprises, only 12% of firms officially support or manage Palm devices. In comparison, 70% of enterprises support BlackBerry smartphones, and 29% support Apple iPhones. Android devices, the newest entrants in the mobile OS wars, have strong momentum and are officially supported by 13% of firms.
HP did gain some important assets as part of the acquisition. Palm's carrier relationships are a plus, and HP can leverage its strong international distribution channel to expand the reach of these mobile devices on an international level. Palm’s highly skilled employees, mobile operating system R&D expertise, and intellectual property are also a benefit. In the short term, HP’s acquisition gave Palm a new lease on life, but given the intensely competitive mobile device landscape, HP’s $1.2 billion investment may not pay off in the long term.
We have all heard a lot about the growing segment of information workers including senior executives, managers, legal professionals, and financial service executives who use their smartphones for work. About 45% of all employees in the US are information workers, and Forrester survey results show that nearly 15% of these workers use smartphones for work. In addition, nearly 33% of information workers are issued smartphones by their company, and about 25% select and purchase a smartphone that may, or may not be supported by the company. We expect the info worker segment to grow significantly as more employees work away from their desk or telecommute.
Vendor marketing and strategy professionals across the mobile value chain must understand how information workers use smartphones and applications, so they can successfully develop products to address the needs of these workers. Information workers are going beyond plain vanilla email, calendar and PIM applications. Many are trying out instant messaging, productivity apps to access Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, and location-based services. To tap the fast-growing slice of information workers relying on their smartphones, business application categories must be clearly identified on mobile operator portals and mobile app store sites. Device manufacturers and mobile operators must also ensure smartphone features and functionality address both personal and professional user needs. Are there other strategies vendors are using to address the needs of the mobile information worker segment?
Machine to machine (M2M) technologies are not new, but recently a wide range of service providers, device manufacturers, application developers, system integrators, and other companies are developing products, establishing business models, and implementing strategies to stake their claim in the M2M market. A quick search of M2M press releases during the past six months resulted in over 100 announcements on the topic of machine to machine or M2M.
During the past couple of years, mobile device manufacturers including Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, and RIM have deployed mobile application stores. Applications available in these stores are primarily consumer focused including games, music, news, and entertainment - but many applications are emerging that help business users. Work related application examples include PDF document readers, expense report viewers, and productivity enhancing applications for LOB workers such as medical decision-support tools and ECG-reading applications for doctors and nurses in healthcare.
We are all familiar with the story – mobility is hot and is taking root within firms of all sizes. Why? Mobility solutions improve employee productivity and efficiencies. However, the down economic environment has changed corporate priorities. It is no surprise that our data shows that cost cutting activities for telecom data center, and servers dominate initiatives for the next year. See the report: Demand Insights: Enterprise Mobility 2009 for more information.
But, there is another story. We found that nearly 35% of companies identify offering more mobility support including deploying mobile applications and mobile devices as a critical or high priority for their companies in the coming year. This is not shabby during these difficult economic times.