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07/22/2014 - 07/24/2014 Los Angeles CA

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08/06/2014 New York NY

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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. Almost in spite of itself, Apple has become a force of nature in the enterprise.

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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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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A walk through the future where everything is connected

CITEworld

Attending a conference on the “Internet of things” is like walking through a bizarro mosaic of the future.

Conferences tend to center on a well-defined market, topic, or large company, and that theme is reflected back in some cohesive fashion by each company in attendance.

“The internet of things”, “smart devices” or “connected devices” (my preferred term), or broad subsets like “wearables” by nature implies just about everything.

Everything, in theory, can connect to everything else via a sensor, processor, and transmitter. That means the boundaries of a connected product and its related vertical markets are, in theory, limitless.

So as you peruse the booths, you see wireless garden sensors next to fabric with sensors literally woven in, you see defense contractor behemoth Booz Allen Hamilton talking about cloud computing solutions across the aisle from a startup shoe sensor company called Boogio (“Makes your shoes smart!”).

As I walked through the vendors and sessions at this week’s Wearable Technologies Conference in San Francisco, I tried to assemble a picture my future life flooded with all these sensors, embedded everywhere, telling me everything.

Imagine:

As I finish up a work project in my future home, Imprint Energy’s wafer-thin batteries power a wristband running atop VirtualBeam’s motion recognition software which informs me when my hands have been gesturing over my Leap Motion sensor for too long, so I need a break to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. My future wife scans patients at the hospital with Aura’s 3D ear canal scanning system but her Emotiv electroencephalography headband scans her brainwaves and lets me know that it’s been a stressful day for her. I send our drone to go pick up tacos for dinner.

My future daughter plays in the backyard and I know she’s okay because Sensirion’s outdoor sensors tell me that the humidity and temperature are reasonable, not to mention the Leo bands around her legs tell me she’s well hydrated and her muscles are moving well (i.e. she’s running around happily) and her SunFriend wristband indicates her UV intake is still low. My future son practices the virtual drums with his Moff wristbands as he gets ready for his football game where Flextronics sensors will map his muscle motions on each tackle (good form or not?) and his i1 Biometrics mouthguard will alert me in real time when he gets a concussion and store the data in the cloud.

And that is the really the binding agent of all these seemingly random companies.

“It’s about the data!” Frank Ball, CEO of vascular imaging company Evena Medical, booms during his talk. “We’ve heard about generating data. But the money is being in the pipeline that processes that data…. We call this whole morass ‘the data hurricane’.”

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Personal Computing’s Big Three Get a Little Bigger

The New York Times

Three companies are pulling away from the pack in the PC business.

Counts of second-quarter personal computer shipments released Wednesday by two major analysis companies showed a slower-than-expected decline in PC shipments worldwide, with wealthy markets like the United States showing decent growth. But in poorer countries, alternatives such as low-cost tablets continued to affect PC sales.

The real surprise in the numbers was the relative strength of the three biggest PC makers — Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and Dell — compared to the loss of market share by almost everyone else. Lenovo appeared to have solidified its lead as the world’s biggest PC maker, a title for which it contested with H.P. for several quarters.

One of the analysis companies, International Data Corporation, said worldwide PC shipments totaled 74.4 million units in the second quarter, a drop of 1.7 percent from the same quarter of 2013. The important United States market grew 6.9 percent, to 16.7 million units. Gartner put worldwide shipments at 75.8 million units, an increase of 0.1 percent, and United States shipments at 15.9 million units, up 7.4 percent.

Among the top five vendors, which also included Acer and Asus, global shipments rose 9.8 percent year-on-year, IDC said, while the rest of the market, made up of about 15 other computer companies, declined 18.5 percent. Gartner said companies not in the top five had a net decline in shipments of 13.8 percent.

IDC said Lenovo had 19.6 million units shipped to the world market, a rise of 15.1 percent. H.P. was second, with 13.6 million units, up 10.3 percent, and Dell was third at 10.4 million units, up 13.2 percent. Acer’s shipments fell 2.5 percent, to 6.1 million units, and Asus managed a 3.3 percent gain, to 4.6 million units.

Gartner’s percentages were much the same, though it scored an even steeper fall for Acer and a better performance for Asus. Even last quarter, according to both research companies, the companies outside the top five had 40 percent of the global PC market; now they are closer to a third. And the analysts expect them to fall further.

The better-than-expected overall performance for PC shipments was attributed to a number of factors, including strong business demand after the discontinuation of support for an older version of Microsoft’s Windows PC operating system, and consumer interest in lower-priced laptops.

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How is Wearable Tech Progressing?

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 How is Wearable Tech Progressing?

There are a lot of joggers along the Thames near to where I live. These normally emerge with the sunshine and come in many guises. Yet a particular hazard of the west London location is numerous, rather daring examples, of the latest kit. The most ludicrous specimen of this type caught my attention recently in a shape of a middle aged gentleman decked out in fully matching green vest ‘n’ shorts combo, neatly accessorised with a gloriously outsized smartwatch. 

The analysts at Beecham Research forecast that the wearable tech market is currently on course to be worth $3 billion by 2018. However, the firm believes that if the market can take a true ‘multidisciplinary’ approach, it could be worth more than three times that, at $9.3 billion. And the main answer? Collaborations with fashion.

In fact, its latest report is co-authored between fashion tech analyst, Claire Duke-Wooley and principal analyst, Saverio Romeo and takes the view that “tech alone” will not drive the success of these devices. 

“We don’t like buying things that people tell us we need,” says Duke-Wooley. We buy things because we like the design of them. This is innate within consumers and something that the fashion industry understands really well. She believes in the future, technology companies will need to collaborate with fashion companies at the conception stage in order to create something that works really well in the marketplace. Naturally the example of the iPhone, a beautiful piece of design that nobody knew they wanted till they had it, is raised.

Nigel Beighton, VP of Technology at Rackspace, agrees: “Fashion is an important element that is being missed at the moment in the wearable market. People don’t wear glasses anymore because contacts are more fashionable, and watches have been replaced with mobiles that fit the pocket rather than on our wrist. Simply put, you can give me all the communication in the world, but if it does not look good I am not going to use it”.

There is some evidence this trend is gradually starting to place. Beecham research points to the new Withings Activité smartwatch, which blends Swiss watchmaking with Parisian design.  Then there is Ringly smart jewellery, which doesn’t look like it contains any technology at all. This is on top of all the developments in smart clothing and textiles, led by companies like CuteCircuit,Wearable Experiments and Studio XO. Yet as Beecham points out in the press release, this has still not moved “beyond the couture end of the market”.

Saverio Romeo stresses wearable tech is part of the Internet of Everything. This itself has many associated tech hurdles and Beighton lists the following areas that need to be addressed “for wearables to be the success that everyone wants them to be”:

“Our networks are already highly congested, so much so that even mobile phones struggle to get 3G or 4G everywhere. [On top of this] the internet wasn’t built for millions of things to be mobile and connected, so adding 1000-fold more devices is going to be incredibly challenging. It will happen as the infrastructure gets better but it’s not one year away, it is more likely to be five, maybe ten years”.

“Wearable technology has a high dependence on cloud services and it needs more communication than we currently have on mobile phones,” he continues. “If I walked into a room with Google Glass, I would want it to tell me who everyone is and where we’ve met before, and it is the cloud that will power the big data stores that we need”.

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Coming soon: Mobile devices that can beam 4K video directly to TVs

IDG News Service

Smartphones and tablets will be able to transmit 4K video directly to big screens next year now that mobile chip maker Qualcomm has acquired Wilocity.

Wilocity makes chips based on WiGig technology, which wirelessly transfers data between devices at speeds of up to 7Gbps (bits per second) over a limited distance.

Qualcomm will integrate that technology in its 64-bit Snapdragon 810 mobile chip, it said Wednesday when it announced the acquisition. The first smartphones and tablets with WiGig will ship in the second half of next year, said Cormac Conroy, vice president of product management and engineering for Qualcomm’s Atheros division.

Device makers will ultimately decide if they want to use the WiGig chip in smartphones and tablets, a company spokeswoman said.

WiGig could spell the end of HDMI ports in mobile devices and also eliminate clutter and connectors required to transfer data or 4K video. WiGig is faster than Wi-Fi 802.11ac and LTE mobile broadband technologies, which are already in Snapdragon chips.

Qualcomm officials declined to say how much the company paid for Wilocity.

4K content is growing by the day and faster wireless data-transfer technologies are needed in mobile devices, Conroy said, adding it is the right time to integrate WiGig into Snapdragon.

Netflix has started streaming 4K video, and WiGig can turn mobile devices into media stations so streams can be dispatched to 4K TVs and displays. 4K video has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, which is four times that of 1920 x 1080 pixel, high-definition video.

The utility of WiGig goes beyond 4K video. Intel wants to free PCs of wiresby 2016 with the use of WiGig to connect desktops to displays, wireless keyboards and mice. Intel also views WiGig as a preferred data-transfer technology for mobile devices over low-power Thunderbolt, which would involve connectors and wires.

Dell is using WiGig technology in a wireless laptop dock.

Mobile device users will be able to sync data with the cloud faster through WiGig, said Tal Tamir, vice president of product management at Qualcomm Atheros, and formerly CEO of Wilocity.

Data exchange between mobile devices and the cloud is heavier in the enterprise, and WiGig will provide low-power, multi-gigabit throughput, Tamir said.

With PC-like data transfer capabilities, mobile devices could come close to becoming full-fledged computers, Tamir said. But WiGig won’t replace wired connectors like USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, which are widely used in computers, external storage devices, monitors and other peripherals.

WiGig has been around for years, but adoption has been slow. Qualcomm’s integration of the technology into smartphone and tablet chips should push adoption of the technology.

From Google to Amazon: EU goes to war against power of US digital giants

The Guardian

Within the salons of the Elysée Palace, along the corridors of the European parliament and under the glass dome of the Reichstag, Old Europe is preparing for a new war. This is not a battle over religion or politics, over land or natural resources. The raw material that Paris, Brussels and Berlin are mobilising to defend is the digital environment of Europe’s inhabitants; their enemies are the Silicon Valley corporations that seek to dominate it.

Coal, gas and oil powered the industrial revolution, but in the digital era, data is replacing fossil fuels as the most valuable resource on Earth, and the ability to collect and interrogate it has created organisations with a power that can at times seem beyond the control of nation states. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google represent, in the words of Germany’s economy minister Sigmar Gabriel, “brutal information capitalism”, and Europe must act now to protect itself.

“Either we defend our freedom and change our policies, or we become digitally hypnotised subjects of a digital rulership,” Gabriel warned in apassionate call to action published by the Frankfurter Allgemeine. “It is the future of democracy in the digital age, and nothing less, that is at stake here, and with it, the freedom, emancipation, participation and self-determination of 500 million people in Europe.”

In France, economy minister Arnaud Montebourg believes Europe risks becoming a “digital colony of the global internet giants”, and ministers have called for Google to contribute to the cost of upgrading the country’s broadband infrastructure. Gabriel says Germany’s cartel office is currently examining whether Google should be regulated as a utility, like a telecoms supplier – the group has 91.2% market share of search in Germany.

He believes that, as a last resort, there may be a case for “unbundling” Google, separating its search arm from mobile, or YouTube, or services such as email.

As a first step, he is in favour of regulation that allows competitors to use the Google platform fairly. The pushback against Amazon has also begun: as of last year, the online retailer can no longer stop independent sellers on its German website from offering their own goods cheaper elsewhere, including on their own websites.

European regulators have also begun to take action. In May, the European court upheld a plea by a Spaniard, Mario Costeja González, who wanted pages hidden from any Google search for his name in the EU. Judges decided the past transgressions of private individuals have a right to be “forgotten”. The threats that ruling poses to freedom of the press are now being debated, but it was a watershed moment, representing Europe’s first major regulatory strike against the search and software colossus.

On 11 June, the European commission‘s competition regulator, Joaquín Almunia, wrote to colleagues to warn that his investigation into Google’s search rankings could be reopened, after new complainants had stepped forward. On the same day, he announced a potentially wide-ranging inquiry into tax avoidance, starting with a focus on three companies: Apple and its international headquarters in Ireland, and Starbucks and its head office in the Netherlands (the third company being carmaker Fiat). On Thursday, a leak from Brussels suggested Amazon, which operates through a European HQ in Luxembourg, was also being dragged into the net.

“In the current context of tight public budgets, it is particularly important that large multinationals pay their fair share of taxes,” Almunia said. His intervention was widely interpreted as a politically motivated act. It almost certainly was.

There are those who believe that Jean-Claude Juncker, the former Luxembourg prime minister who has just been elected as the next president of the European commission – despite vocal opposition from David Cameron – is out to get Google.

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Why Facebook’s user experiment is bad news for businesses

CITEworld

The big data problem isn’t just about handling petabytes of information, or asking the right question, or avoiding false correlations (like understanding that just because more people drown at the same time as more ice cream is eaten, banning ice cream won’t reduce drownings).

It’s also about handling data responsibly. And so far, we’re not doing as well with that as we could be.

First Target worked out how to tell if you’re pregnant before your family does and decided to disguise its creepy marketing by mixing in irrelevant coupons with the baby offers. Then Facebook did research to find out if good news makes you depressed by showing some people more bad news and discovered that no, we’re generous enough to respond to positive posts with more positivity.

But if companies keep using the information about us in creepy ways instead of responsible ones, maybe we’ll stop being generous enough to share it. And that could mean we lose out on more efficient transport, cleaner cities and cheaper power, detecting dangerous drug interactions and the onset of depression — and hundreds of other advances we can get by applying machine learning to big data.

It’s time for a big data code of conduct.

Facebook’s dubious research is problematic for lots of reasons. For one thing, Facebook’s policy on what it would do with your data didn’t mention research until four months after it conducted the experiment. Facebook’s response was essentially to say that “everyone does it” and “we don’t have to call it research if it’s about making the service better” and other weasel-worded corporate comments. And the researcher’s apology was more about having caused anxiety by explaining the research badly than about having manipulated what appeared in timelines, because Facebook is manipulating what you see in your timeline all the time. Of course, that’s usually to make things better, not to see what your Pavlovian reaction to positive or negative updates is. The fact that Facebook can’t see that one is optimizing information and the other is treating users as lab rats — and that the difference is important — says that Facebook needs a far better ethics policy on how it mines user data for research.

Plus, Facebook has enough data that it shouldn’t have needed to manipulate the timelines in the first place; if its sentiment analysis was good enough to tell the difference between positive and negative posts (which is doubtful given how basic it was and how poor sentiment analysis tools are at detecting sarcasm), it should have been able to find users who were already seeing more positive or more negative updates than most users and simply track how positive or negative their posts were afterwards. When you have a hypothesis, you experiment on your data, not your users.

That’s how Eric Horvitz at Microsoft Research has run experiments to detect whether you’re likely to get depression, whether two drugs are interacting badly, whether a cholera epidemic is about to happen, and whether people are getting used to cartel violence in Mexico.

Using public Twitter feeds and looking at language, how often people tweet and at what time of day and how that changes, Horvitz’s team was able to predict with 70% accuracy who was going to suffer depression (which might help people get treatment and reduce the suicide rate from depression). Not only did they use information people were already sharing, they asked permission to look at them.

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Microsoft, Apple, and Google battle for the mobile enterprise

CITEworld

The past three months have seen a whirlwind of announcements for enterprise mobility. MicrosoftApple, and Google all had their respective developer conferences. It’s never been clearer: All three are positioning themselves to battle for dominance of the mobile business market.

Although BlackBerry also squeezed in an announcement about its new partnership with Amazon that will bring the Amazon Appstore to BlackBerry 10 devices, the company is struggling for relevance as consumers continue to eschew the platform. While BlackBerry will continue to be a player in high-security markets, it’s unlikely to recapture a dominant position in the overall enterprise space now that end users have much choice and control over what devices they want to use at work.

What’s interesting is that Microsoft, Apple, and Google are all approaching the enterprise market in different ways. Each is playing to its strengths.

The incumbent

Apple has already managed to secure much of the enterprise mobility market. There are many factors that led to Apple’s dominance, but some key ones include Apple’s early introduction of enterprise security features in iOS, an ongoing expansion of those features, having a more mature platform on the market sooner than Android and Windows Phone, a closed ecosystem that resists malware, and the premium user experience that has been the hallmark of Apple for the last decade or more.

Apple has another big advantage: It’s always retained complete control of iOS as a platform. Apple has strict control over the hardware, OS, and app ecosystem that defines iOS. Microsoft and Google have both relied on third parties to create devices that run their platforms. Although both companies are, in their own ways, taking some steps to rein in the platform fragmentation that this has created, minimizing the impact of that fragmentation isn’t going to happen overnight.

Even if Google’s efforts with Android L succeed in tamping down security-related fragmentation, Apple may still have an edge here in terms of end user support. There have been just eight iPhone models ever made (likely to become ten this fall) and just seven iPads. That makes things much easier for helpdesk and other support professionals to troubleshoot than the wide swath of Android devices that BYOD users may bring into the office.

Windows tablets and phones may fare better than Google from a support perspective because many IT departments already support and troubleshoot Windows PCs and transferring those support skills onto mobile devices may be easier and more efficient.

Being the incumbent in the race, Apple also has the advantage of inertia — organizations that have managed to standardize around iOS are likely to see an advantage in staying the course. Part of that is because the institutional knowledge and solutions to secure and integrate iOS are already present, which means generally lower overhead in mandating or preferring iOS over other platforms.

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