Dave Michels
Dave Michels is a Principal Analyst at TalkingPointz. His unique perspective on unified communications comes from a career involving telecommunications...
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Dave Michels | May 30, 2012 |


BYO Duopoly

BYO Duopoly While most of the press is laughing at Cisco for creating a proprietary device, they are totally ignoring the closed proprietary device that is winning.

While most of the press is laughing at Cisco for creating a proprietary device, they are totally ignoring the closed proprietary device that is winning.

Cisco killed the Cius. Cisco and Avaya (and most of their enterprise competitors) have sold closed (proprietary) phones to their customers for years, so there was a reasonable degree of logic that a closed tablet would also be attractive. We will never know for sure because the primary reason the Cius failed wasn't because it was closed--but because it wasn't an iPad. While most of the press is laughing at Cisco for creating a proprietary device, they are totally ignoring the closed proprietary device that is winning.

Big and smart companies have tried to deal with the iPad--HP, Amazon, RIM, Cisco, Avaya, Samsung, Microsoft?, Dell?, Google, and HTC have been unable to even dent the armor. All of the iPad alternative sales combined total a footnote in the world of tablets. It's a tough act to follow for the would-be competitors. They must offer some combination of pricing, versatility, and capability to outshine the iPad. Competitors can't win with lower price on comparable device--not only does Apple have huge discounts associated with huge quantities, but it makes so much on app sales that it could even afford to sell iPads at a loss. The Appstore has unimaginable number of apps, making the iPad highly versatile. If a new application store was created tomorrow and added 100 apps a day, it would still take over 13 years to catch up.

The capability front isn't easy either--Apple's R&D is well funded and innovative--the display and battery life are amazing in the iPad3. Thanks to the iPhone and iPod, Apple has a decade of experience and maturity with ioS and its manufacturing processes.

So I hope you like the iPad, because there aren't really many other choices. Personally, I think the iPad is an amazing device, but it also has some huge flaws--particularly for the enterprise. Normally, competition would correct these flaws--either by the competitors directly or via competitive pressure on the incumbent. But with a de facto monopoly today, Apple will decide how the iPad evolves on its terms. Google's Android is in the best place to create a duopoly, but that outcome is far from certain.

One big area that needs iImprovement is privacy and security. This is exactly the area that Cisco was targeting with the Cius (and Avaya with its ADVD). There are huge security holes/concerns with smartphones and iPads. IBM recently banned Siri because it isn't clear what recordings are retained or how they are used. Apple doesn't provide any warnings or indications of what apps access what personal information--including stored photos, location, access to social networks, and personal contacts. These so called smart devices are a form of electronic tattle tales--unable to keep a secret. A free travel app sounds nice, but exactly why it needs access to personal contacts isn't self evident.

There were some valuable lessons in the now removed "Girls Around Me" application -that helped people find girls near them. The girls that were featured in the app were unknowing participants as the app creators were exploiting a hole in FourSquare's API. The girls thought they were checking-in with dreams of possibly becoming a site's "mayor," but instead were turned into the main attraction for guys on the prowl. Location awareness enables 911, but the truth is that a lot more people are interested in other people's locations.

In fact, business people should be aware that just sending location information could be a violation of an NDA! Most iusers don't realize how much information they are giving out. Give something like a banking or photo application access to your camera and it can view and upload all of your stored photos (which contain location information by default).

Next page: We are under surveillance


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