Posts Tagged ‘iPad’

Tablets and Your Business

Posted on: September 30th, 2014 by billp | No Comments

Since the iPad was first introduced in 2010, we’ve witnessed explosive growth in the market for the first truly new piece of personal technology since the PC: the tablet computer. The industry has even coined the term “Post-PC Era” to note the decline in sales of traditional PCs in favor of new devices such as tablets and, to a lesser degree, smartphones and phablets. Dozens of manufacturers make dozens of sizes and shapes of tablets, but they all share the same common ground: they are touchscreen slates that don’t need a keyboard and mouse.

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According to an IC Insights report, total shipments of personal computing systems (desktops, notebooks, tablets, and Internet/cloud units) are forecast to rise 12% in 2014 to 585 million units compared to 521 million in 2013. However, the market for standard PCs (desktops, notebooks) continues to be sluggish in 2014, causing IC Insights to forecast a 5% decline for these systems to 298 million this year. The gap is made up of Post-PC Era devices such as tablets, and the growth in tablets only increases as IC Insights forecasts out to 2017.

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With the market for tablets and similar devices growing so aggressively, and software developers and accessory manufacturers coming up with increasingly creative ways to take advantage of the platform, we’ve only scratched the surface of what we can do with tablets. Where tablets were once seen as “consumption devices” (i.e. used to watch video, read books, play games, etc. – consume content), we have reaches a point where tablets have very real and measurable business benefits.

As noted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, a recent survey of 100 CIOs in the U.S. and Europe by Barclays PLC shows increased support for tablets, which in many cases are moving from limited trial rollouts to broader deployments. 97% of the respondents said they are interested in or are already supporting the use of tablets in the enterprise, either through BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or COD (Company-Owned Device) initiatives. The survey found that PCs remain the lowest-rated spending priority among CIOs and tablet deployment was “key” within their organizations.

The Barclays survey also noted that Apple, with iOS and its iPad line, was clearly the preferred vendor among those surveyed, with Microsoft and its venerable Windows next, beating out Google’s Android.

Apple iOS

Apple, with its iPad Air and iPad Mini product lines, are synonymous with tablets in the minds of many consumers. Apple was first to market with a truly innovative tablet design, and their early lead has given them the attention of consumers, business leaders, and software developers.

Apple has their eye on the business market to further strengthen their market position. We’ve written in the past about the use of an iPad for business, but the landscape – both in terms of hardware and apps, has changed much since we first wrote about the topic in late 2011. Apple’s recently-released iOS 8 operating system has in increased focus on the enterprise, with notable business-oriented features such as expanded data encryption, email encryption options, data management and content filtering, and new device management capabilities. Lesser-known business-oriented services offered by Apple include Volume Purchase Program (VPP), allowing businesses to buy and deploy apps, and the Device Enrollment Program (DEP), allowing businesses to pre-enroll devices with Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions at the time of purchase.

Apple is also capturing the attention of other key players in the technology industry. In July 2014, Apple announced that it would partner with IBM to develop business applications specifically for iPhones and iPads, and IBM also said it would sell Apple products with those built-in apps to clients around the globe.

Google Android

While Apple’s iOS devices may have the mind-share of the world, Google’s Android operating system has the largest market share by a large margin. Android, unlike iOS, is licensed to third-party manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Motorola, and many others who release their own devices in many shapes and sizes – and not only smartphones and tablets. Android powers wearables, TVs, and cars. Google’s recently launched Android One initiative promises to enable access to quality Android devices in emerging markets, opening up Android to potentially millions of new customers. With more market share comes more developers of apps, services, and accessories, and Google is playing the long-game with Android, making it the dominant operating system to make sure it gets the most attention.

Google (through partnerships), Samsung, and LG all make high-quality Android tablets. Each manufacturer puts their unique stamp on their tablet devices since the market for Android devices is more open than Apple and iOS. The Nexus 7, manufactured for Google by Asus, is a very popular low-cost 7” tablet running “pure Android” (i.e. no manufacturer customizations). Moving to a higher screen size, Samsung offers the Galaxy Tab S with a stunning 8.4” display and some Samsung-specific innovations in Android. If you’re really looking for a large screen, Samsung offers the Galaxy Note Pro with a massive 12.2” display and stylus for pen-based input.

Like Apple, Google is very focused on the business market. Google’s upcoming next release of Android, currently named “Android L” (Android releases have all been named after desserts or sweets, and the “L” name hasn’t been decided on yet) has a focus on business-oriented features, collectively dubbed “Android for Work.” Android devices will have the ability to partition personal data from work data, making it easier for businesses to monitor apps and data being used for work-related purposes and control what happens to that data. This is particularly valuable to businesses that have embraced BYOD, because now there can be an area for personal information and a completely separate, controlled, and managed area for business data on the same device. Android L will also have full-device encryption enabled by default, keeping both business and personal data safe.

Microsoft Windows

While Microsoft is currently a lesser player in the explosive mobile market, they are actually one of the earliest players in the tablet market. Starting with Windows for Pen Computing for Windows 3.1 in 1991, Microsoft has been a proponent of tablet and pen-based computing for decades. Starting with Windows XP, Microsoft adopted the Microsoft Tablet PC name. Tablet support was added to both Home and Business versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7. Following Tablet PC, Microsoft announced the Ultra-mobile PC initiative in 2006 which brought Windows tablets to a smaller, touch-centric form factor.

Windows 8, which we have written about in detail, marked a major change in Microsoft’s approach to Windows and tablet computing. Windows 8 was the first major – and very ambitious – change to the Windows user interface (UI) since Windows 95 almost two decades earlier and was met with mixed reviews because it significantly changed the way we interact with our PCs. Traditional PC users complained – quite vocally – that Microsoft was forcing a mobile-first experience that they did not want and disrupting their ability to use their PCs. However, one thing was and is sure – Microsoft is fully committed to merging mobile and traditional PC computing, and Windows 8 was the first leap forward in that revolution.

Love it or hate it, Windows 8 is here to stay in one form or another. Microsoft’s next release of Windows, codenamed “Threshold,” and assumed to be Windows 9, is targeting at calming the problems introduced by Windows 8 in businesses, notably training costs by forcing a completely different interface on users (hint – the Start menu is coming back). Microsoft’s next version of its venerable Office suite, codenamed “Gemini,” is widely-rumored to be touch-first, making it much easier to use than traditional Office on a tablet.

While Microsoft is refining its approach to mobile, one thing is clear – the easiest integration of tablets into the business is through tablets based on Windows 8.1 Pro (not Windows RT, which is incompatible with standard PC software). Tablets based on Windows 8.1 Pro integrate into your business just as a desktop or notebook would, using the same software, same management tools, same security, etc. For all intents and purposes, they are PCs in a different size and shape. Many Windows tablets also help to bridge the notebook/tablet gap with familiar form factors that blend two designs, such at the Microsoft Suface Pro 3 and Dell Venue 11 Pro.

For more about the laptop versus tablet discussion, read our recent blog post on the topic.

Now that you know who the key market players are, the real question for your business is what do you want to do with your tablets?  Picking a mobile operating system or tablet before you know what you want to do with it is a recipe for project failure. Carefully think about the following questions as you think about your tablet goals.

  1. Do you want to access files from your office file server from your tablet?
  2. Do you want to access your office PC from your tablet (e.g. remote desktop)?
  3. Do you want to be able to print from your tablet to your office printers?
  4. Do you want to access your entire office network (servers, PCs, printers, etc.) from your tablet over a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?
  5. Do you need access to specific line-of-business apps on your tablet?
  6. Will the tablet be owned and managed by the business (i.e. company-owned device)?
  7. If you decide to allow BYOD, what will happen to your business data if the employee no longer works for you?
  8. If a tablet is lost or stolen with your business data on it, what will you do?

The answers to these questions – and many others – will guide your decision about which mobile operating system and apps you need to succeed. We suggest starting with a pilot program (one or two devices) before embarking on any large-scale mobile deployment. This will prove the concept and work out any problems before you deploy on a larger scale.

Mobile projects can be complex, but can also have measurable ROI in terms of employee productivity, device cost savings, and many other areas. Colden Company has written extensively on integrating tablets, and mobile in general, into your business in the past. From BYOD, to mobile safety and security, to mobile security policies, to mobile strategy, we’ve covered it all. If you want to manage your mobile devices running iOS, Android, or Windows, we’ve discussed our Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution.

Bottom line – Colden Company has the experience to help you succeed with your tablet and mobile initiatives. Contact us at 888-600-4560, via email at info@coldencompany.com, or via Facebook or Twitter. We’ll get your message on our tablets!






Mobile Safety and Security

Posted on: September 27th, 2012 by billp | No Comments

Think back ten years ago and try to remember what kind of mobile device you were carrying. Calling it a “device” may even be a stretch because, more than likely, your device was a phone that made calls and did little more. You may have had a WAP web browser and texted using your phone keypad, but your phone was primarily for making and receiving calls. Now we carry devices/phones that are dramatically more powerful and capable, sometimes even taking the place of PCs for working on the road. Along with this increased capacity comes safety and security risks – both personal and professional – that need to be considered.

Whether you carry an aging smartphone or a brand-new Apple iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III, Nokia Lumia 900, or similar, you can be exposing yourself or your business data to theft if you’re not careful. The New York Police Department recently revealed that thefts involving Apple products have increased 40% over the same period last year, resulting in a 4% increase in overall crime. But there are things you can do to protect your personal property and the business and personal data you carry on your smart devices.

Here are some suggestions to improve your mobile safety and security, and possibly even your personal safety.

  1. Be aware of your surroundings and use common sense. Don’t use your mobile device to check the time when a stranger asks at night. Don’t use your mobile device near a subway, bus, etc. exit. Treat your mobile device as you would your wallet.
  2. Use security software that can help locate your mobile device if it is stolen. Apple provides Find My iPhone as a free service to all iCloud users, and this can also be used for iPads and iPod Touch devices. A well-respected solution for Android users is Lookout Mobile Security.
  3. Protect your mobile device with a access code of some kind – password, passcode, or PIN. This simple measure can protect your personal and business data in the event of theft. We recommend the use of longer passwords or passcodes over a simple PIN for increased security. Taking it a step further, most mobile operating systems allow you to wipe your device if an access code is incorrectly entered a certain number of times.
  4. Use encryption on your mobile device, if possible. Be aware that encryption can have a slight impact on battery life due to the process of encrypting/decrypting your data. iOS, Android, and the upcoming Windows Phone 8 (but, sadly, not Windows Phone 7) all support device encyption.
  5. In a business, enforce mobile device policies. All of the major mobile operating systems provide tools for centralized device management and security policy enforcement, and many third-party value-add tools exist as well. Such tools allow businesses to enforce device access code usage and complexity, remotely and securely wipe lost or stolen devices, and enforce device encryption, among many other settings.

From the standpoint of personal safety, texting while driving is getting a lot of attention. Many States have enacted laws prohibiting texting while driving. Distractions while driving – texting or otherwise – are a danger. The government site distraction.gov reports that ‘In 2010, 3,092 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an estimated additional 416,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.” The mobile carriers are starting campaigns or using technology against texting while driving; AT&T started the “It Can Wait” campaign, Sprint has “Focus on Driving,” and Verizon is conducting a “Don’t Text and Drive Pledge” in Ohio high schools. Sixth-grader Victoria Walker was recently awarded $20,000.00 by AT&T to bring to market a mobile app she designed called “Rode Dog,” designed to bark at your to warn you against texting while driving.

The bottom line is that your personal safety is far more important that your mobile device usage. Don’t text while driving. Be smart about when, where, and how you use your device. Protect yourself and your information.

Do you have questions about how to secure your mobile device? Do you want to use tools to enforce security policies across your business mobile devices? Contact us at (888) 600-4560, email us at info@coldencompany.com or see us on Facebook or Twitter (@coldenco) if you want to use your devices safely and securely.







How to protect personal data on devices you plan to sell

Posted on: March 30th, 2012 by billp | No Comments

A recent study shows that it’s almost impossible to get rid of personal information from some devices, even if you follow the manufacturer’s directions for wiping the device clean. BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows 7 devices are reported safe as long as you follow the manufacturer’s directions for securely wiping them, but Android and Windows XP are another question. If you’re not sure if you’re safe, contact us for help.

How to protect personal data on devices you plan to sell (Los Angeles Times; March 29, 2012)

Importance of Developing a Mobile Security Policy

Posted on: March 30th, 2012 by jiml | No Comments

The ubiquitous nature of mobile devices like iPhones, iPads, and Android devices among consumers has led to an interesting dilemma for IT security professionals. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to work has become the norm in many organizations today. Gartner has stated that, by 2014, 90 percent of organizations will support corporate applications on consumer devices and 80 percent of professionals will use at least two personal devices to access corporate data. The general capital outlay is decreasing, but is it at the terrible expense of security, privacy and control? Those devices are downloading company email, connecting to company resources, and potentially storing sensitive company information. What happens to that information when an employee leaves the company? That question is causing security professionals to investigate mobile device security.

MDM (Mobile Device Management) solutions are now becoming an important component to companies’ IT security plans. Software can play a part in security, but without a comprehensive mobile security policy, the software will not accomplish your goals. Colden Company Inc. recommends that businesses review their company or HR handbooks and develop clear and enforceable policies centered around mobile devices. For example, do you allow your employees to download company email to their personal phone? Is that acceptable? Should their device have a passcode or password on it? What do you do if the employee leaves the company? Is it clear that employees should not download company data onto their personal mobile devices? What are the penalties for non-compliance? It is important that the policy be developed with the input of business leaders, not just left at the doorstep of the IT department.

Once the policy is written and reviewed, there are a variety of tools available for remotely wiping phones, implementing password policies, and enforcing other security policies. It is tempting to put the cart before the horse and purchase the tools before the policy is developed, but we caution against that.

What is clear is that mobile devices are going to continue to play a larger and more important role in business computing. Businesses that want to stay ahead of the curve are understanding this trend and proactively addressing it. If your business would like to discuss how it can stay ahead , please contact us at (888) 600-4560, email us at info@coldencompany.com or see us on Facebook or Twitter.







Develop a Mobile Strategy for Your Business

Posted on: January 31st, 2012 by billp | No Comments

Few markets are undergoing such constant and rapid change as the mobile technology market. Smartphones and tablets are fighting to replace laptops as the road-warrior’s tool of choice. Once-dominant players are now fighting for survival. The strength of a particular manufacturer’s hardware now has far less to do with success than the platform and, arguably more importantly, the apps that run on it. Integration with business email systems is becoming easier. IT is becoming “consumerized” with many businesses opting to allow employees to provide their own phones as long as they meet certain business-necessary criteria. It’s important that your business adopt a mobile strategy to ensure ongoing security, supportability, and success for your increasingly mobile and connected workforce.

Research in Motion, RIM, makes of the venerable BlackBerry smartphone line, a long-time favorite of businesses for providing best-in-class mobile email and security using their BlackBerry Enterprise Server solution, is struggling to maintain relevance in an increasingly consumer-dominated market. RIM is making substantial changes to their BlackBerry operating system (OS) in the upcoming “BlackBerry 10.” Where device launches are concerned, RIM has a slow year ahead with a new 7-inch PlayBook tablet – a device that cost the company nearly half a billion dollars last quarter – and a single BlackBerry 10 smartphone that won’t launch until late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter. Analysts are suggesting that RIM’s changes may be too little, too late in the face of its competition.

An Achilles’ heel for RIM may be what was once considered one of its greatest strengths – the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). Offering security, integration with all of the market-leading on-premise business email systems (Exchange, Domino, etc.), and device management, BES was seen as the must-have solution for businesses that wanted control over their mobile workforce’s devices. While not as comprehesive, many business email systems now offer built-in mobile device management and security. Even Google’s cloud-based Google Apps for Business offers very solid management of mobile devices via a variety of policies that control password requirements, device wipe, etc. The additional cost and management overhead of BES is more of a potential burden than a strength for RIM’s customers.

The market leaders are Apple with it’s iPhone, iPad, and iOS, and Google with its Android operating system and multiple tablet and smartphone hardware partners. Microsoft is making aggressive moves with its Windows Phone operating system and key hardware partners such as Nokia. All of these platforms offer excellent integration with business email systems (particularly Microsoft Exchange via their built-in ActiveSync solution), manageability, and security. If you’re using Exchange, email, contacts, and calendar integration is a simple matter of enabling ActiveSync support on your server through your firewall and configuring the mobile device – no additional software infrastructure is required.

A key differentiating factor for both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android is their app catalogs. Hundreds of thousands of apps are available for each platform, demonstrating a solid commitment by mobile app developers to furthering the platforms. RIM and Microsoft are much weaker in this area. When you’re selecting a mobile platform for your business, spend time thinking about and researching the apps you think would be important to your business. Do you want VPN access to your business network? Do you want to be able to edit Microsoft Office files? Do you want secure access to your Windows file server? Do you want to access a terminal server? Apps of varying quality are available for both iOS and Android that can perform these tasks and many more. Spend some time thinking about what you want to do with your mobile devices and then make sure the platform follows your needs – not the other way around.

While RIM has a long history of leadership in the mobile market, and you should never bet against Microsoft’s determination to be a strong presence in a major market, the best bet for your business today would be a device based on iOS or Android. Both have strong integration with your business email systems, active and enthusiastic developer communities with the app catalogs to back it, and the support of strong companies with a commitment to the mobile market. Both iOS and Android will be a presence in the smartphone and tablet markets for many years to come, and their competition will lead to better products and more pervasive business use and support.

Colden Company has experience with all of the major mobile platforms and can help you evaluate the pros and cons of each against your business needs. Call us at (888) 600-4560 and ask how we can assist your business in utilizing these powerful mobile technologies to keep your business a step ahead of your competition. You can also find us on FaceBook, on Twitter @coldenco, or send us an email.






Tablets for Business Use

Posted on: December 29th, 2011 by jiml | No Comments

There are many iPad apps that can service your business but the key to a successful implementation is finding the right apps that fit your business workflow. That’s the risk of something like the iPad with its highly diverse app market. Finding the right combination of apps may require some trial-and-error.

The key must-have feature we look for in these apps is easy computer-to-iPad-to-computer transfer. So many business apps on the iPad require you to tether (even wirelessly) the iPad to a computer in order to transfer files via iTunes or web browser or use an intermediate service like Google Docs, Dropbox, Box.net, SugarSync, etc. To us, these limit the appeal of a highly-mobile solution like the iPad because you have to ensure you have all your files transferred before you travel to a customer meeting. The cloud-sync solutions alleviate some of this, but you still need to make sure the files you want are in the cloud for them to be synched to the iPad. 

Another concern we have with tablet-based productivity solutions is input method. The iPad does not support any form of handwriting recognition or gesture-based text input. You either need to use the on-screen virtual keyboard or a physical keyboard case/attachment. You can get a stylus such as the Pogo Sketch, but this will still be writing on the screen – not handwriting recognition and/or transcription. If using the on-screen keyboard will slow your sales team down, that’s certainly something that needs to be considered.

Some applications are well flushed out and almost universally useful.  PDF Expert looks like a good app for PDF markup and annotation.  iAnnotate is another. GoodReader excels at handling large PDF files and also supports annotation. 

The two biggest Office-compatible apps in the App Store – Documents To Go and QuickOffice – do not support saving Office files to PDF format. Pages (Apple’s iWork suite) supports Word documents and saving to PDF, but there is no guaranteed compatibility with any formatting you may have in the Word documents when they are opened in Pages. There is another app called Office2 HD that supports Office files and saving to PDF, but it isn’t well-reviewed. Readdle (developers of PDF Expert) have an app called PDF Converter which can save many different input types to PDF. It also supports Dropbox (cloud storage) as a file store.

The tablet device market is in flux right now. Traditional Windows tablet PCs based on XP/Vista/7 are, to be completely frank, dead. Most manufacturers have relegated them to the back of the catalog when they exist at all. Microsoft has committed to new tablets and a new tablet experience with Windows 8, but that won’t be released until sometime in 2012. Android (Google) tablets are coming out fast and strong. The problem still comes down to apps. If the apps aren’t there to support your need, it doesn’t matter whose tablet you use – it won’t meet the business needs.

Apple currently has a major head-start in the tablet market due, most obviously, to the fact that they actually have a shipping product, but more importantly due to the fact that they have the attention of a very active community of app developers. While we would never bet against Google and Android, the reality is that the tablet market belongs to Apple right now.

If you were to start today, iPad is your best option; just be patient and willing to endure some trials to find the right app or combination of apps to suit your needs. Call us at (888) 600-4560 and ask how we can assist your business in utilizing new technology to keep your business a step ahead of your competition, or find us on FaceBook or on Twitter @coldenco.