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Apple’s IBM Deal Marks the Real Beginning of the Post-PC Era

Mashable

When you look at the landscape of powerful players in the enterprise, a few names tend to stand out: IBM, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Apple.

Wait, Apple? A decade ago, it was rare to see Apple products in the enterprise. Sure, an executive here and there might have had a MacBook — maybe the graphics or marketing division used OS X — but everyone else worked on Windows and carried a BlackBerry.

Fast forward to today. Consumers have shifted away from the desktop-and-laptop world and more to the cloud, streaming media and mobile devices, and business and enterprise have, too. Today, iOS is in 98% of the Fortune 500.

Seemingly overnight, Apple — the consummate consumer company — is a big player in the enterprise.

That reality became crystalized on Tuesday when Apple announced that it would be partnering with IBM to focus on “transforming enterprise.” The deal will pair Apple’s mobile and tablet hardware with IBM’s services, which include its Big Data, cloud and security infrastructure.

How exactly did this happen?

Falling into enterprise

The original iPhone wasn’t designed for business users. You could use a custom email setup, but there was no Exchange support, no VPN and no built-in productivity apps. With the iPhone 3G and iOS 2.0, Apple started adding more enterprise-friendly features, largely at the behest of businesses. Executives bought iPhones and wanted to use them in the office.

But it was the iPad, first released in 2010, that really changed the game. The portable nature of the tablet, coupled with a growing library of custom or publicly available third-party apps made the devices an instant hit in the office and in schools.

The iPad came along at the perfect time. Big enterprise customers were already starting to shift to cloud-based solutions for CRM and document management, which made it easy for an iPad to step in for a laptop on sales calls or in meetings.

Phil Buckellew, IBM’s vice president of enterprise mobile, says enterprise customers are constantly asking — demanding, really — more mobile solutions that are easy to use.

Why? It’s simple. People use an iPad at home and want to have that same experience at work. Users are accustomed to solutions “just working.”

Historical enterprise companies such as Microsoft and BlackBerry have struggled to adapt their technologies for the modern consumer, but by virtue of its consumer-friendly user experience, Apple seems to have almost accidentally fallen into enterprise.

Post-PC for the office is coming

Back in 2010, Steve Jobs famously discussed the emergence of a Post-PC world. Much hand-wringing and rationalizations about how the PC is still relevant has followed, but the reality is, Jobs was right. For most users, the PC is no longer the center of their digital lives, that center is now a smartphone (or even a tablet).

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Technology journalists are facing extinction

Medium

One of the first ever online journalists for the BBC is a close colleague of mine. These days, you’d say he was the most experienced member of the team.

But back in the 90s, when the BBC was still finding itself online, it was decided that his job would be “internet correspondent”.

Internet correspondent! The very notion that one such role could encapsulate all that was going on in this brave new world now seems hideously naive — but I’m told at the time it was met with the odd scoff in the newsroom.

“Can you believe it?” they’d chatter, “they’ve got someone who’s just looking at the internet!”

Fast forward a few more years, to 2005, and another colleague of mine found himself in a similar situation. Tasked with chipping in with the BBC’s live election coverage, his role was to give a run-down on what chatter was taking place online.

It was given a fairly short shrift — it really was all meaningless waffle, back then. The hardened hacks shared the same opinion — who cared about what some idiots on the internet had to say?

Of course, the next general election had no such role (Edit 16/07/14: see update at the foot of this post). This time, diligent political hacks— spearheaded by the likes of Laura Kuenssberg —were all across the internet themselves.

Tweeting, blogging, Facebooking… politics wasn’t just talked about on the internet, it happened there.

Most of my day-to-day work is for the BBC News website, but in the past 12 months I’ve been lucky enough to get my shot at TV and radio.

Yet while my personal capacity to tell technology stories in the past year has diversified, I’ve noticed something: my beat is rapidly disappearing.

We don’t need someone “watching the internet” during elections anymore, that’s clear. But we’re also now approaching a point where the most pressing — and let’s face it, interesting — technology stories shouldn’t be thought of as technology stories at all.

Case in point: the Edward Snowden revelations. A story broken, not by a technology writer, but by a civil rights specialist with a background in law.

Which makes a lot of sense. Snowden is a story about democracy, a political crisis, a threat to our human rights. It’s a debate about civil liberties, what it means to be “safe” from terrorism, and the ethics of whistleblowing.

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Chrome gets sharp after dumping 30-year-old Windows technology

IDG News Service

Google last week said that it was finally ditching a 30-year-old technology to display fonts on Web pages in its Chrome browser for Windows.

In an announcement Thursday about some of the notable changes in Chrome for version 37, which reached Google’s Beta build channel earlier that day, a software engineer said the preview relied on Microsoft’s DirectWrite technology.

“Chrome 37 adds support for DirectWrite, an API on Windows for clear, high-quality text rendering even on high-DPI displays,” said Emil Eklund in a July 17 blog post.

Microsoft introduced the DirectWrite API with Windows 7, which shipped in the fall of 2009, and back-ported the technology to Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) at the same time with what it called a Platform Update. Windows XP, the now-retired operating system — but one that still powers one-in-four personal computers worldwide — does not support DirectWrite.

Prior to the switch to DisplayWrite, Chrome used Microsoft’s Graphics Device Interface (GDI), which was a core component of Windows since the graphical user interface’s (GUI) debut in late 1985. Microsoft had been working on GDI for at least two years before that.

Chrome 36, the current version out of Google’s Stable build channel, continues to use GDI to render text on Windows.

Eklund said that DirectWrite had been a top user request for years: An entry in Chromium’s bug tracker — Chromium is the open-source project that feeds code to Chrome proper — about adding DirectWrite support to the browser was penned Oct. 22, 2009, the same day Windows 7 launched.

As far as a reason for the long stretch between that entry and DirectWrite support making it into Chrome, Eklund said, “The switch to DirectWrite … required extensive re-architecting and streamlining of Chrome’s font rendering engine.”

Much of that difficulty stemmed from the sandboxing — an anti-exploit and anti-crash technology — of Chrome’s rendering engine; it wasn’t until February of this year that developers reported on the bug tracker that they’d managed to get DirectWrite to work inside the sandbox.

Other browsers have long since adopted DirectWrite. Mozilla’s Firefox, for example, switched from GDI to DirectWrite with version 4, which debuted in March 2011. Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer (IE9) began using DirectWrite with IE9, which also shipped in March 2011.

DirectWrite was one of the reasons why Microsoft declined to add the then-powerhouse Windows XP to the list of supported editions for IE9, a move that made the company the first major browser developer to drop support for XP.

If all goes according to plan, DirectWrite support will reach the Stable edition of Chrome with version 37. Google does not hew to a set timetable to browser upgrades, as does Mozilla, but it typically rolls out a new version every six to eight weeks.

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World Tech Update- July 24, 2014

IDG News Service

Coming up on WTU Facebook reports huge sales, Apple patents a smart watch and a space robot gets some updates.

 

Combining the Flexibility of Public-Cloud Apps with the Security of Private-Cloud Data White Paper

CITEworld

Cloud applications are a priority for every business – the technology is flexible, easy-to-use, and offers compelling economic benefits to the enterprise. The challenge is that cloud applications increase the potential for corporate data to leak, raising compliance and security concerns for IT. A primary security concern facing organizations moving to the cloud is how to secure and control access to data saved in cloud applications.

This white paper explores technologies that combine the flexibility of public cloud apps like Salesforce and Box, with the security and compliance of a private cloud. When deployed as part of an end-to-end data protection program, such an approach can provide the same security and assurances as can be achieved with premises-based applications.

Comprehensive Data Protection in the Cloud

In today’s business, IT may no longer own or manage the apps, the devices, or the underlying network infrastructure, yet is still responsible for securing sensitive corporate data. While cloud application vendors secure their infrastructure, the security of the data remains the responsibility of the customer using the application. A comprehensive approach to data security in cloud environments covers the full lifecycle of data in an organization—in the cloud, on the device, and at the point of access.

•In the Cloud—Most cloud apps don’t encrypt data-at-rest, and those that do encrypt manage the keys themselves. For organizations in regulated industries and/or with sensitive data stored in these apps, the ability to maintain confidentiality of corporate data remains unsolved.

•At Access—Cloud apps provide limited access control, data leakage prevention, and visibility when compared with applications hosted on premises. This makes it difficult to control who, what, where, and when employees access cloud applications.

•On the Device—Since cloud applications can be accessed from any device, anywhere, a comprehensive security solution should include protection for cloud application data on client devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Click here to view the full white paper

 

Wall Street Beat: Transition to mobile, cloud hits tech earnings

IDG News Service

With Google, IBM, SAP, Intel and other tech titans reporting earnings this week, the focus is again on mobile and cloud technology. The general trend appears to be that the further a tech vendor has moved away from its legacy desktop-oriented products, the better its earnings are.

IBM has launched ambitious cloud and mobile initiatives—but the resulting products are not quite fully baked. IBM officials themselves acknowledge as much, with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty talking about “positioning ourselves for growth over the long term” in the company’s earnings release Thursday.

Earlier this year, IBM announced a global competition to encourage developers to create mobile consumer and business apps powered by its Watson supercomputer platform. Just this week, IBM and Apple said they are teaming up to create business apps for Apple’s mobile phones and tablets.

But such projects have a ways to go before they reach fruition. Meanwhile, IBM revenue growth is flagging. Its second-quarter revenue was US$24.4 billion, down 2 percent year over year. Profit jumped 28 percent year over year, to $4.1 billion, but that was mainly because it compares to a quarter when net earnings were unusually low due to a billion-dollar charge the company took for workforce rebalancing.

Though both revenue and profit beat analyst forecasts, at first blush investors appeared disappointed, driving down IBM’s share price overnight. IBM shares gained back ground Friday but in early afternoon trading were still down by $0.60 at $191.89.

SAP seems to be riding the transition to cloud while incrementally boosting revenue. The company Thursday reported that, though software revenue continued to decline, cloud-based sales rose.

The maker of ERP (enterprise-resource-planning) software reported that revenue rose by 2 percent year over year to €4.2 billion (US$5.7 billion) in the quarter. SAP’s cloud subscription and support revenue was €241 million in the quarter, up 52 percent. Due to provisions for its patent dispute with software maker Versata, however, its net profit dropped year on year by 23 percent to €556 million.

As usual, Google was the earnings star of the week, reporting Thursday that its core advertising business fueled a 22 percent year-over-year increase in sales, to $15.96 billion. Profit was $3.42 billion, up almost 6 percent year over year.

It’s hard to say how much of this is due to mobile, since Google does not break out numbers for mobile and desktop ads. However, Google has been working on a range of projects designed to get its software on mobile devices. Many of those projects are years away from contributing significantly to the company’s bottom line, so for now the company essentially runs on its tremendous ad business.

One issue is that ads on mobile devices cost less than ads for other platforms and as a result, even as the company successfully makes the transition to mobile, the average cost-per-click of its ads went down by about 7 percent last quarter. Google officials say that as mobile computing becomes more imbued with work and recreation, ads on mobile platforms will become more remunerative.

Investors seem to agree, as Google shares rose Friday by $21.09 to hit $601.90 in afternoon trading.

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PC Shipments in EMEA Return to Growth in 2Q14, Says IDC

IDC PMS4colorversion  300x99 PC Shipments in EMEA Return to Growth in 2Q14, Says IDC

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), PC shipments in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) reached 21.9 million units in the second quarter of 2014 — a 10.5% increase year on year and a clear return to growth after seven quarters of consecutive decline. As in the previous quarter, Western Europe drove most of the regional growth, with shipments supported by strong enterprise renewals, which led to an overall 25% increase in the PC market. Consumer shipments also returned to growth after a severe contraction in 2013. At the same time, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) remained impacted by the unstable political and economic situation in Russia and by currency fluctuations; as forecast, CEE declined by 13.2%. The Middle East and Africa (MEA) posted a modest 1.9% increase in shipments. In line with those trends, portable PC shipments in EMEA returned to growth (up 8.3%), while desktop PC shipments increased 14.1%. The increase in total EMEA shipments indicates a rebound in the market but not a recovery as volumes remain below the 25 million unit mark of the peak periods in 2010 and 2012.
“The clear improvements in EMEA are positive signs for PC manufacturers,” said Chrystelle Labesque, research manager, IDC EMEA Personal Computing. “However, there was still a big difference between the subregions, and especially in the consumer segment the divide between mature and emerging markets is similar to the worldwide trend. While some parts of the CEMA [Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa] PC market continued to suffer from unfavorable exchange rates and a difficult political situation, Western European shipments were fueled by low-end consumer notebooks. Even if the comparison is eased by a very poor second quarter of 2013, more attractive products at the right price points encouraged more consumers to renew their devices. Retailers and etailers also seem more confident as new product designs and features better positioned price-wise are now generating higher sales and not only just interest. Promotional activities and vendors’ preparation for the back-to-school period further supported the market. The level of inventory will have to be monitored closely as back-to-school sales progress during August and September.” In this context, Chromebooks continued to grow, but their impact is limited to several countries in Western Europe.
PC shipments in Western Europe have continued to benefit this quarter from ongoing renewals in the SMB space following the end of Windows XP support. Commercial demand remained strong as business confidence stemming from an improving macroeconomic outlook contributed to corporate renewals. Commercial PC shipment growth in Western Europe reached 26.9% — clear confirmation that PCs remain key productivity tools in the enterprise environment. At the same time, the rebound in consumer shipments accelerated and some markets, including southern Europe, returned to levels of business close to their capacity. Shipments in Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands took off, with sell-in up by more than 40%.
“The lack of investments in PC renewals during the past two years contributed to an aging installed base across the commercial market and, together with the end of Windows XP support, this generated large renewal needs,” said Maciej Gornicki, senior research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing. “As the macroeconomic outlook improved in most Western European countries, large enterprises regained confidence and started to replace their PCs, while many companies in the SMB segment reacted late to the change in the operating system. This has mainly boosted demand for desktops in the past two quarters, while the wave of portable renewals remains ahead of us.”

The Rise of Cloud in the Channel

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 300x99 The Rise of Cloud in the Channel

Cloud services represent a growing opportunity for partners of all types in a wide array of activities across resale, services, and development. However, it’s of key importance that partners have an understanding of the what, where, how, and why of cloud services prior to embarking on wholesale business strategy change.

This IDC study, commissioned by Microsoft, examines the implications of becoming a successful cloud partner in 2013. Developed with insight garnered through in-depth conversations with leading Microsoft cloud partners and backed by supportive survey data (see methodology for further details), it provides a profile of the potential upside of integrating cloud to a partner’s mix of solution offerings.Finally, it concludes with guidance as a partner begins, or continues, their journey into the cloud.

the rise of the cloud in the channel The Rise of Cloud in the Channel

Standalone wearables coming this year, AT&T executive says

IDG News Service

The most successful wearable devices will be ones that can work without a phone, and AT&T will have at least one of them by the end of this year, the man who manages the carrier’s partnerships said.

“It needs to be an independent device. It needs to do something different for the end-user, for people to buy it en masse,” said Glenn Lurie, AT&T’s president of emerging enterprises and partnerships.

A likely place to start could be wearables for wellness, such as a device that knows when your workout’s begun, holds your music, and lets you post information about your performance to social networks, he said. “I think you’ll see devices like that this year,” Lurie said.

The hottest devices will be able to work both on their own and with a phone, Lurie said. They’ll also have to be simple to use, a bar that no wearable has crossed yet, he said.

Once wearables start talking to LTE on their own, the sky’s the limit of what consumers will take with them, Lurie said. “Just like tablets, it’s going to all of a sudden explode.”

Cars will be another hot category of connected devices, with natural-language commands letting drivers do many things, he said.

“We believe technology in a car can make the car not only a safer place, but a place where you can do everything you can do today with your smartphone in your hand,” Lurie said. But there are hurdles left to be crossed: Cars will need to be able to talk to both Android and iOS phones without those phones coming out of the driver’s pocket. And as cars age through several generations of mobile technology, their software will have to be upgradable over the air. “The car is going to become a smartphone with four wheels.”

Lurie has overseen AT&T’s new businesses and partnerships for years, going back to the carrier’s blockbuster deal to carry the Apple iPhone exclusively for five years. Speaking before the audience at the MobileBeat conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, he wasn’t giving away any secrets about what manufacturers are showing off to AT&T.

“The things I’m seeing are pretty darn exciting,” Lurie said.

Nadella’s Microsoft is obsessed with data-driven growth hacking

CITEworld

Satya Nadella’s message to the Microsoft troops yesterday underlines the way consumerization has changed computing already: To Microsoft, everyone is now a “dual user” who uses technology for work and play. That’s two chances to lose a customer if Microsoft products don’t delight them.

To make sure that those products do delight, and do what people need, Nadella is turning to some of the tenets of Silicon Valley startups like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, AirBnB, and Netflix: Data science and growth hacking.

Change agents and growth hacking

If you talk to people who work at Microsoft, you’ll have heard them use some new language this year, with phrases like “change agent” and “growth hacking.”

Getting comfortable with change and being involved in changing things is what Nadella pointed out that everyone at Microsoft is going to have to do; “Culture change means we will do things differently. Often people think that means everyone other than them. In reality, it means all of us taking a new approach and working together to make Microsoft better.” One Microsoft, as you might say.

And growth hacking is a Silicon Valley startup term that’s a lot more than just viral marketing, SEO, and A/B testing. It’s about turning product development and marketing into a virtuous, data-driven cycle where you get more users by figuring out what users do and don’t want; how they find your product and how they use it.

Josh Elman, now a VC at Greylock, tells a story about growth hacking in the early days of Twitter, when lots of people were signing up but few of them carried on using the service. Instead of emailing those users or trying to show ads to people who might be more likely to stick around, they focused on understanding what was going on.

“We dug in and tried to learn what the ‘aha’ moment was for a new user and then rebuilt our entire new user experience to engineer that more quickly.”

The key was getting people to follow other Twitter users, so they were seeing tweets they would be interested in. “As we kept tweaking the features to focus on helping users achieve these things, our retention dramatically rose,” says Elman.

His advice for growth hacking is very like Adam Pisoni’s principles for turning a company into a responsive organization (something he’s been doing at Microsoft as well as for Yammer customers). Find your heavy users who already love your product and find the features and the pattern of usage that made them into active users. Build things that attract new users — whether that’s your marketing or sharing from existing users — and make sure there’s a way for new users to get started that turns them into active users quickly. Then build more features that your old and new customers will love, and keep on going.

That means getting everyone involved in growth. Early on, Facebook had a growth team that included marketing, business development, product development, finance, and HR. It wasn’t just trying to get more users; it was behind projects like the system for importing email contacts, making Facebook available in multiple languages by crowdsourcing translations of the interface, and even creating the Facebook Lite experimental interface (a slimmed-down version of the site).

 One of the first times I heard “growth hacking” from someone at Microsoft was talking to Jeffery Snover about his “Just in time, just enough admin” toolkit for PowerShell at TechEd this year, when he compared fast releases and agile development to balancing on a bicycle. “You don’t get stability by going slowly,” he pointed out.

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