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No Charge for Mobile UC?

At first, I found this blog post interesting because it further discusses the issue of Facebook becoming a communications platform, which is obviously relevant to the enterprise. And in addition, who among us doesn't love some good Facebook-bashing?

But the more I thought about the post's main contention--that Facebook drains iPhone/iPad battery life by activating Location Services and Background App Refresh, the less reason I could think of, as to why this wouldn't be a problem for an enterprise UC app on a mobile device.

Now, I know I've argued quite recently that enterprise UC apps won't make it on mobiles, so why should we care? The reason is that while generic, comms-specific clients from the platform vendors like Avaya and Cisco haven't succeeded on mobiles, other business apps may. So communications-enabling any business apps, and running those apps on mobile devices, would likely pose the same problems for battery life.

For example: If you're a Realtor and your MLS application is tied to your agency's communications back-end, you'd want Location Services and Background App Refresh to run pretty constantly--that's the whole edge that you're hoping to get: You can jump on a listing or seize the opportunity to show a property while you're out on other showings, and can quickly get in touch with the relevant people to make it happen. Assuming your battery doesn't die.

And of course there's a potential multiplier effect when it comes to these apps: If you wind up using Facebook (or any other social OTT platform) as your all-purpose public communications application, you'll probably want to draw power to keep it current with your physical location/work status. But if you also use a specialty/vertical industry app, with integrated communications, that'll be always-on too, from a network perspective. So double the drain. In theory, that might drive you to push your whole life onto the general-purpose platform, but I'm skeptical about that: You have the vertical app for a reason.

As much as anything else, this scenario suggests to me the way that reality collides with the visions that vendors--and to some extent, all of us--put forward when it comes to UC. All of these integrations and convergences sound great, and would/will be great, but we're often tripped up by more mundane obstacles. Mobile battery life is one. There isn't anything we can think of to make our mobiles more useful and productive--more the equal of our tethered computing devices in terms of power, yet more useful because they're mobile--that doesn't represent a major drain on the mobile device's battery. So to a great degree, whether mobile UC/CEBP succeeds could depend on Layer 1-type technologies.

This is all fairly speculative at this point--Facebook isn't there yet as a communications platform; nor is mobile CEBP. But the latter seems to have clear business value, and the former has a very deep-pocketed company driving it. So I do think these are issues that will continue to arise.

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