Welcome to my blog

Welcome and thank you for visiting my blog....

This is where I will pen my thoughts on Enterprise Mobility and other wireless technologies based on my learning’s/ experience over the course of my IT career.

The wireless world has been a very exciting place to be over the last few years. We have seen the introduction of ground breaking products and technologies have reached a never-before-seen level of maturity. The rate of enterprise adaptation to wireless technology is only accelerating day by day.

This is a personal blog and will focus on my thoughts and perspectives on wireless technology. Please feel free to share your opinions and viewpoints so that it can be discussed and debated. Though I would like to, I won't be able to post to this blog each day. Will try my best to write whenever I get time.

I hope that you will return often to this blog. Thanks again.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Enterprise Mobility Market outlook :2010

Mobility trends for year 2010

by Purushottam Darshankar

Demand in mobility solution is exploding in all industry segments as businesses have started leveraging the enhanced power, ability and reach of the mobile to come up with innovative user-friendly applications. Organizations are only now starting to see mobility as a strategic differentiator. Though diverse device technology landscape may present some challenges, technically savvy small and medium businesses will continue to go for business-on-the-go solutions supporting their mobile workforce.

Smartphone sale will continue to skyrocket and carriers are going to realize that their ARPU will be driven by data revenues. Both business and consumer users never expresses interest in surfing the web on their phone but the acceptance of social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Myspace have pushed the web as must-to-have feature and carriers will figure out the ways to generate revenue other than the data plan.

Apple’s iPhone first shook up the mobile industry in 2007, but Google is slowly starting to become a contender; there are already around 12 Android phones across 32 carriers in 26 countries. In US it will eventually be distributed by all four major U.S. wireless carriers, while Apple is exclusive with AT&T. So although the future for Android looks incredibly bright, let’s not forget there are about 10 million iPhones and growing on the market and over 100,000 applications in the App Store to compete with. Microsoft announcement of WM 6.5 at MWC created big hype only to realize that upgrade is superficial cosmetic overhaul and is incapable of handling the mobile market’s stiff competition. Windows mobile 7 is due next year, why not just wait?

As consumer applications in B2C surges, browser will become a dominant delivery mechanism for reach mobile applications. Though thin client solutions built on HTML5 are paving the way for richer mobile application, smart client applications are not going to go away anytime soon. The recent announcement of the Chrome OS by Google, which is basically a browser on a netbook, that is supposed to ship next year will inevitably put the companies in deeper competition.

2010 year will see the emergence of cloud or SaaS based enterprise mobility offerings. According to IDC report ““almost 40 percent of organizations plan to deploy a SaaS-based mobile solution in the next 12–18 months.” The OEM’s and Telco’s will give a serious look at hosting mobile middleware platforms for connecting enterprise application to mobile devices and offering such services as pay per use model. The platform needs to be multitenant, scalable, secure and flexible to cater to diverse needs of enterprise market. With security and performance enterprise-ready, the cloud is enabling businesses to be more agile, more productive and more flexible. Businesses also benefit from lower IT, energy and real estate costs through data center virtualization.

Companies will develop more innovative applications that get them closer to their customers, employees and partners. As business users have started using their personal devices for business use, Business intelligence (BI) will be increasingly mobilized. Executives will be glued to their mobile screens for the latest statistics on their business.

The focus will be on green, as organizations are sensitive and more aware of reducing their carbon footprint via different methods like reducing paper consumption, reduced power usage, reducing travel etc. Mobility has been well positioned in providing the underlying foundation for more eco-friendly society.

The adoption of mobility solution looks quite impressive but enterprise mobile application market has not yet reached the critical mass. , still plenty of work has to be done, gaps to be bridged, and problems to be solved. With much on the agenda, it's safe to say that 2010 promises to be an exciting year for enterprise mobility.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Meet the founders of OnMobile, IMI Mobile and several other cool mobile companies @ Mobile Apps Conference (October 31, 2009 . Bangalore)


Just wanted to let you know about an exciting event siliconindia is organizing on October 31st (Saturday in Bangalore). This is a full-day conference that will explore the new opportunities that are emerging and ask the larger questions of the industry leaders within mobile space, shedding some light on where the industry is headed and how entrepreneurs and developers can take advantage.

Come listen to some of the brightest minds in mobile technology discuss the future of mobile technology.

Arvind Rao, Chairman, CEO and Co-founder, OnMobile
Vishwanath Alluri, CEO,Chairman and Founder IMImobile
Vishnu Sunderam, Co-founder CEO, Interchain Solutions
Selvamuthiah Somasundaram, Sr. VP & Co-Founder, Satnav
Raj Oswal, Founder & CEO, O'interface
Dilip R Mehta, IIM Bangalore, Ex-MD RPG Cellular and HMV Saregama
Prashant Dogra, Customer Marketing Manager, Navteq
Shanker Janakiraman, Director & CEO - India, Symbioun Technologies

Mobile applications explode. Who wins and who loses?
Carriers and handset makers want a piece, too: Where will they go?
LBS Challenge: Maximising Revenue and Engaging the Consumer
Mobile Payment Services: The Road Ahead
Mobile Marketing

Sponsors: Nokia, Sun, Navteq, Satnav
Exhibiting companies: Eterno, iPath, MapmyIndia, Mobikwik, OnMobile, ObjectSol, Satnav, ShortHand, Symbioun, Tencube, Trakut, Trademarkia, Vassoft, Wirkle

WHEN: October 31, 2009 (Saturday)
TIME: 9 AM to 6 PM
WHERE: NIMHANS Convention Center, Near Diary Circle, Bangalore

To attend this event, register FREE at http://www.siliconindia.com/mobileconference/register.php

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Choose right device platform for your Enterprise needs

by Purushottam Darshankar

Businesses are continuously looking for cost effective and faster ways to deliver critical functions to their mobile workforce and one of the biggest barrier to its successful adaption has been security consideration. Banking, insurance, investments, retail, healthcare cannot afford to deploy mobility solutions that could possibly compromise on their critical data.

The first step towards making solution secure is to choose the device that exhibits high level of inherent security. The article explores on how BlackBerry, iPhone and Windows Mobile device score on some of the key criteria necessary in selecting the device for enterprise use.

There are different components that make the device platform safe and secure for business use. The most important amongst it is authentication. The robust IT policy would prevent from unauthorized person from accessing the enterprise data. BB (BlackBerry) allows the IT department, through use of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) tools, to set a policy mandating the user to log in to the device via a strong password. The iPhones require connection to a PC running iTunes for its initial activation with carrier and creates a complete image, including all of the data on the device, thus posing a potential security threat. Windows Mobile does provide for password locking of the device and does support a number of third party applications that create two-factor authentication (e.g., Biometric reader, card readers).

Data storage on the device and external SD card is a key requirement for mobile workforce to access business critical information in offline mode. BB provides ability to encrypt all data on the device, including data stored on SD cards enabling full protection to critical data. The iPhone does not provide data encryption mechanism on the device, either for selected files or for the entire data store. So if an unauthorized user is able to get beyond the password, then all data is exposed to that user. Windows Mobile provides the ability to encrypt peripheral SD cards, although the main memory of the device is not so encrypted.

Enterprise-grade mobile platform should include a method for assessing signatures of application that, when checked by the device, can determine an authentic, non-tampered application from one that has been modified. BB provides an inherent mechanism for verifying the signature of each installed application to assure the application has not been tampered with. Further, IT may enforce policies to allow or disallow individual applications from running on the device.

For iPhone, applications require a digital certificate issued by Apple and to obtain the certificate the company must register with Apple. A Distribution Provisioning Profile must then be created and loaded to each device through end user intervention. There is no direct OTA mechanism for corporate to download the application. Loading applications to the iPhone requires either uploading that application to Apple’s App Store for delivery, or by connecting each device to a PC and “side loading” the application through iTunes. This process requires users to initiate any downloads to the device from their PC or requires that IT retrieve each iPhone and “side load” through a master PC within IT control. However, a “Jailbreak” program is available on the Internet that bypasses the iPhone security and allows unsigned applications to run on the device and thus represents a significant threat to the security of the device.

Windows Mobile has limited ability to verify individual applications. It does allow the “signing” of executables and setting specific policies to limit which applications can run on a device. Windows Mobile does provide for OTA downloading of applications through third party applications, and IT departments can deploy applications on their own without intervention.

A device that cannot be remotely managed will add significant amounts of TCO and additional support burdens to organization deploying it. Businesses evaluating devices should examine whether the device OS offer hooks to manage all aspects of the platform such as device setup, monitoring, uploading, display of device characteristics, asset management, lock-down, software upgrades etc. If such capability is not inherently available within the OS, it is highly unlikely any security and/or management tools will be able to competently manage all aspects of remote management. BB has been designed to be managed by a set of policies that can be easily created and deployed through the standard BES. Polices are delivered OTA directly to the device and configured automatically without user knowledge or intervention required. Data of each device in terms of its memory use, battery condition and overall health is available for analysis. iPhone and Windows mobile has to rely on third party management application for providing the remote management capabilities. Windows mobile 6.0 does make some log files and other hygienic data available to IT administrator.

Many industries require that devices be validated and approved by governmental agencies to ensure that they meet stringent security testing and specifications before they can be deployed to mobile workers. BB has attained numerous validations/certifications for its devices and has the ability to select the most common encryption algorithms (e.g., AES, 3DES) to protect the data on the device, and provides a complete remote device wipe capability as well. Windows Mobile 6 device do provide encryption capability for a variety of common standards (3DES, AES etc.) and do provide for remote device wipe through the ActiveSync capabilities.

While each may have strengths and shortcomings, the most secure platform for business use is the BB platform. Windows Mobile has continued to improve over a period of time and with third party applications one can enhance security majors and consider the platform for mobility deployment.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Usability guidelines for websites on mobile devices

More and more mobile phones users are browsing and searching the Internet on their handsets. The UK, for example, has neared saturation for mobile phones and many handset browsers can now handle sites designed for viewing on computers. Indeed 20% of UK mobile phone users now use the Internet on their mobile devices (source: 3G.co.uk14).

If you design websites for PC viewing then you need to consider how your sites will look and work on mobiles. The bar for mobile specific sites has been raised by some good sites and others need to close their gap. As the mobile Internet has developed savvy users have come to expect higher standards when browsing on their handsets.

These guidelines are based on actual user research conducted with mobile phone users. Users were asked to carry out typical tasks on popular websites using a mobile phone browser. The issues they encountered were used to produce these guidelines.

Meet users' needs quickly
Mobile and PC users can have different reasons for visiting the same site. Mobile users are more likely to want information to help them at that location or time, such as finding directions or finding out what's going on nearby. Also, they might want quick entertainment to pass away a short period of time, like something to read on the bus or while waiting to meet a friend. For your site, predicts users' needs and fulfil these as quickly as possible. Exceptions to this are items people download to keep on their phones (e.g. buying ringtones).

Yahoo! does this effectively with its new mobile oneSearchTM service. Searching for 'Cinema' produces a list of cinemas near users' location showing their address and phone numbers. Clicking the 'Call' link next to a number opens a call dialogue box on the phone. A further enhancement would to be enable users to click through to a map of a venue.

- Yahoo!'s oneSearch predicts what users are searching for and tailors results to their location.
Don't repeat the navigation on every page
Usable websites designed for PCs usually repeat the navigation on every page. However, screen real estate is precious on a mobile screen and navigation can push content off screen. BAA's navigation, for example, takes up the whole screen so users have to scroll down far on every page to get to the main content.

For your website on a mobile, only display the navigation on the homepage. On other pages only include links back to the homepage and back to the last important point along the path users have taken. Show these links at the top and bottom of the page so they're never too far away. BBC Mobile does this effectively with a clickable breadcrumb trail at the top and a list of links at the bottom.

- The BBC's breadcrumb trail saved space and was an effective substitute for repeating the navigation.
Clearly distinguish selected items
Mobile phone users tend to have poor cursor control. This is because moving the pointing device down (with the joystick or direction buttons) simultaneously scrolls the page and highlights links, buttons and form fields. Due to this lack of control it's important to clearly feedback to users what item is in focus. This can be done by changing the appearance of an item to make it stand out from everything else. For example, you can change the font and background colour of links and buttons.

For example, O2's mobile portal doesn't highlight buttons well. It adds a blue border on a lighter blue background that isn't noticeable. Users have to move the joystick around to find the cursor. Worse still, Thomson Local only distinguishes form fields by making their border slighter thicker. In contrast, their highlighted links stood out because the font and background colour was changed and contrasted strongly against the page's overall white background.
-O2's highlighting needs to be stronger to be noticeable. Simple page designs allow for more effective highlighting on Thomson Local.
Make user input as simple as possible
Allow users to input information by making selections instead of entering free text (or at least provide this as an alternative method). Entering text on a mobile phone can be painfully slow and error-prone on the typical 12 button mobile keypad. Mobile users are more likely to make mistakes (due to misspelling or mistyping) or take shortcuts. Sets of well thought out links on quick loading pages can be very usable.
On Thomson Local, for example, it isn't possible to browse businesses or locations. Users tend to abbreviate search terms (i.e. business type) which leads to inappropriate search results. The Odeon's mobile site allows users to find a cinema by searching or browsing. Users that search often make more mistakes than those that browse, the latter usually finding what they're after by only selecting 2 links.
- Users make errors when trying to type long text on Thomson Local.
- Users can however quickly browse to the right cinema using Odeon's Cinema List.
Only show essential information
Mobile phone screens are of course tiny and have only a fraction of the area or pixels on most PC monitors. Be sure to identify page requests coming from mobiles and only send down the most essential of information. Otherwise, important content might be pushed down or difficult to find amongst everything else on the page.
Also, most mobile phone users aren't on flat rate data packages so the larger the page the more users have to pay. Users become frustrated if they have to pay to download page content they don't want.
Header links on the BAA and Thomson Local websites take up lots of screen space and make important information hard to find. 'About BAA', 'Help' and 'Advertise with us' aren't priorities for mobile users.
- Unnecessary content pushes down Thomson Local's search box and BAA's main content below the fold.
Place basic browsing controls on the page
To save screen space, mobile browsers often don't display basic controls such as 'Back' or they display the web page in full screen mode. As such, always include a 'Back' button on every page other than the homepage.
Transport for London's mobile journey planner places basic controls, such as 'Next page', 'Back to results' and 'New journey', at the bottom of each page.
-TFL's site was easy to navigate because basic controls appear on the page.
Design mobile-friendly page layouts
On your website, make sure you design the page to present content in the right order and render well on mobile screens. Website layouts for large landscape PC screens usually don't work well on small portrait mobile phone screens. Furthermore, mobile browsers and page transcoders usually vertically stack pages suitable for portrait display.

It's often best to have completely different page designs to meet mobile users' needs. If mobile phone users are a big part of your business then you should consider creating a site just for mobiles. Sites that are designed for mobiles perform significantly better with users than those that aren't.

For example, BAA's website renders very poorly on a mobile screen. Page sections don't appear where intended relative to each other and pages look poorly designed. Single word link text can be wrapped over 4 lines making it difficult to read. Conversely, Transport for London's mobile homepage contains simple categorised lists of links. Users find this easy and quick to use.

- TFL's mobile site renders well on mobile screens. BAA's site doesn't appear to be designed for mobiles and renders poorly.

In a nutshell
Don't neglect your current and/or potential users by not designing for mobile phones. Follow these guidelines but don't forget to usability test your website on mobile phones. Real usability testing will always capture things that can't be covered by general guidelines.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Enterprise Mobile Web or Mobile Application? – Which way to go?

by Purushottam Darshankar

Enterprise mobility is now moving from the early adopter stage to become a mainstream focus for enterprises and their IT departments. Enterprises are beginning to understand how they can use mobile technologies to improve business process and optimize their mobile worker performance.

Factually, lots of enterprises are in dilemma in terms of choosing a right option – a mobile website or a downloadable application that run on the handsets. The best answer is, it depends on what the enterprise wants to accomplish.

Web applications traditionally have been valued for its ease of distribution; faster release cycle, decreased barrier to entry etc. Coming to mobile, web development has long suffered from a rigid platform and the inability for mobile browser to keep up with current web technologies. With many handset manufacturer attempting to clone the iPhones usability and appeal, the mobile web applications are getting better, the browser more robust and the devices more capable in terms of supporting Javascript and other web technologies such AJAX, flash etc.

The mobile web allows you to develop on a single platform and target the broadest set of handsets. On the flip side, the mobile web application cannot access the advanced features of the phones such as contact list, location information, camera, bluetooth etc. The interfaces on mobile websites are quite poor and clunky resulting in less than desirable user experience due to browser fragmentation and varied form factors. For better usability, vendors such as Volantis (Multi-channel Server), Mobileaware (Mobile Interaction server) etc. have come up with middleware that manages rendering of web pages to different devices based on device capabilities.

If enterprise has an existing high traffic web destination, developing a mobile version makes sense as site already has a brand attached to it and loyal followers.

Today’s mobile handsets are more than just a phone and improved native capabilities of phone can be better utilized with smart client mobile applications. The mobile application provides ability to better control user interactions and user interface via possible inputs such as touch, voice, keyboard etc. The smaller footprint of database allows user to store reasonable amount of data directly on handset giving offline functionality to user. The offline functionality, the important differentiator, could become a major decision factor for enterprises in deciding which way to go.

Mobile device fragmentation at platform, device, firmware and operator level may lead to further confusion for enterprises to choose best suit for their business needs. Additionally, the porting efforts to other platforms and testing applications on physical handset add to overall cost of developing rich mobile application when compared to web site development.

If enterprise has need of extensive data management and interactive user experience on device and also requires access to device functionalities such as location, contact list etc., developing mobile application makes sense.

In conclusion, if enterprise is targeting the mobility to reach out to their customers- a wider audience, mobile web may be better choice compared to native application development, as they do not have a direct control over the mobile devices, personal devices being used by them. If enterprises are thinking of improving the business process or optimizing the mobile workers performance, mobile application would be better choice as enterprise are in better position to manage and control the devices. And, if enterprise believe in mobility as a strong medium for marketing, business process improvement and operational efficiencies, consider investing in both mobile application and mobile friendly web site to utilize the best of these two technologies.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Six things that may disappoint business users in iPhone 3GS

Here are the 6 things that may disappoint business users in iPhone 3GS.
1. Battery life
For business users one of the top priorities in a smartphone is a good battery life. Though Apple iPhone 3GS has improved battery life, many analysts still feel that the model fails to match up to most BlackBerry models.
iPhone 3GS provides up to 5 hours of 3G talk time or Internet use. Apple claims that the new model supports up to 12 hours of talk time, 30 hours of audio, 9 hours of Wi-Fi and 10 hours on video playback.
BlackBerry Storm supports battery life of up to 15 days (standby time) and up to 5.5 hours (talk time).
2. Security weaknesses
In terms of security too iPhone 3GS has gone several notches up over its predecessor, however, the new device still leaves lot for improvement.
According to many web reviews, iPhone has been hacked far too many times to be considered a secure platform. iPhone's new operating system, OS 3.0, reportedly includes 46 security patches. The majority of the patches are for the iPhone's Safari browser and the WebKit open source browser engine.
On security front, one of the most loved features in the new device is the Remote Wipe which allows users to erase all data from an iPhone that has got lost.
3. No physical keyboard
Another big miss for corporate users is the absence of a physical keyboard. Though the new software includes a landscape keyboard for Mail, Messages and Notes, however, most business users feel that a slider-style QWERTY keyboard would have been more handy.
Research In Motion's (RIM's) BlackBerry phones pack QWERTY keyboard for easy typing.
4. Video conferencing
Though Apple has fulfilled a long time wish by enabling the device to record videos, however, iPhone 3GS still lacks front-facing camera for video conferencing.
This means the device is not capable of sending videos across a Wi-Fi or cellular network in real time. This comes as a big disappointment especially for business users in the age of video conferencing.
5. No editing in Word Document
Another dampener for business users is absence of editing support for Word documents. This means while iPhone users can read Word documents, they cannot edit it. This again is an area where Apple needs a bit of rethink especially while targeting the device in the business segment.
Unlike iPhone 3GS, most smartphones let users edit Word documents to make changes and send them. However, there are a couple of third-party solutions that may solve this issue.
6. No Flash
iPhone 3GS also disappoints corporate users looking forward to Flash support in the new version. The latest iPhone too offers no Flash support.
This is a big miss for users who may want to see those multimedia files that require Flash or browse through Web pages with Flash on their iPhones. Earlier, Apple had said that Flash would run too slowly on the iPhone.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Mobile Applications for all your different needs

Popular Mobile Apps

by Purushottam Darshankar

Social networking-
If you are an intrepid Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Photobucket, YouTube or Friendster fan, wish to blog, share video or geotag photos, want BBC or CNN, iTV or NowPublic on your phone...make the ShoZu mobile app (http://m.shozu.com) your single-window social media hub.

Check out Fring (www.fring. com) too. It’s a dependable app for instant messaging (IM) and free calls across Skype, MSN Messenger, GoogleTalk, ICQ, SIP, Twitter, Yahoo! and AIM. As backup, you can also install Nimbuzz (www.nimbuzz. com). It’s a neat mobile messenger that allows you IM as well as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) across several services.

Google mobile app
www.google.com/mobile/default/app.html You’ve probably heard of all the apps from this stable—Gmail, Search, Maps, News, YouTube, Latitude and other Google gurgle. But did you know that some of these are directly accessible from your phone without any browser bumming? You can download the mobile Gmail to quickly check your mail on the go. You can also use Google Sync on several phones to synchronize your Google Contacts and Calendar with your hand-held. Latitude will let you broadcast your current location on a map to friends and family.

Nokia Beta Labs
http://betalabs.nokia.com/betas The Nokia Beta Labs’ landing page has several interesting Symbian S60 tools. The best of these include Wellness Diary, a personal journal that helps you record and track health parameters such as weight, eating habits, exercise, blood pressure, etc., and Sports Tracker, a phone-centric GPS-based activity log that automatically records workout distance, routes, speeds and time in your training diary. It even allows you to share the information with others via a website.

You may also want to try Handwriting Calculator, and Ovi Contacts applications from this stable. But remember, before you download these; check out if they are compatible with your handset.

Web browsers
The Opera Mini (www.opera.com/mini/) browser is fast and furious. It features several advanced and user-friendly features, including personalized skins, YouTube video playback, bookmark sync, page saving for offline browsing and user-defined shortcuts, etc.

If you have a Sony Ericsson handset, try the full-fat, albeit slower Ozone (www.o3mobi.com) Web browser. Though it runs on a very limited number of handsets, Ozone offers a more desktop-like browsing experience.

Internet radio and podcasts
One of the best things about listening to Internet radio over your phone is not having to use those constantly tangling earphone sets. Small and easy to install and run, Nokia Internet Radio (http://www.s60.com/life/application/displayDetails.do?appId=320) gives your phone access to hundreds of Internet radio stations over Wi-Fi as well as GPRS. You can pick the quality of your connection according to your ambient network.
Check out Spodtronic (http://www.spodtronic.com/en/specialpage.html?pid=3) too. Another free Internet radio app, it lines up a wide variety of audio entertainment for your phone—including podcasts and mood-based personalized radio. You can also get download-and-play-later podcasts from Nokia Podcasting at http://europe.nokia.com/get-support-and-software/product-support/podcasting.

If you are an avid reader and don’t mind your mobile phone’s small screen, Wattpad (www.wattpad.com/download) is a good option. Download the app and plunge into community-driven categories ranging from biographies to business, sci-fi to sports, tech to travel. You can also upload your stories, ruminations and essays to jokes, and share it with the Wattpad community.
For audio books, install the Nokia Audiobooks (http://betalabs.nokia.com/betas/view/nokia-audiobooks). For free audio books, go to Librivox.org. You can use the Nokia Audio Books Manager to convert and transfer them to your phone.

www.widsets.com WidSets is a collection of around 4,000 widgets (mini apps), including games, fun, news, sports, weather, utilities, games, social content, videos and much more. So, instead of diving in and out of sites looking for interesting apps, you can check out this one-stop site and fire your searches. It’s currently compatible with over 300 phones—we wonder what will happen after WidSets metamorphoses into the Nokia App Store in June.

Dr Jukka apps
www.drjukka.com/index.html This is another stockpile of various Symbian S60 applications available in one place. Most people will be able to make good use of Y-Browser, an uncomplicated phone file manager and Y-Alarms, a multi-alarm utility. 50 Widgets comprises an expansive collection of games and puzzles.

Yahoo Go!
http://mobile.yahoo.com/go If Gmail is not your cup of tea, you can check out Yahoo! Go. This all-in-one download gives you real-time access to email, news, search, stock quotes, Flickr photos, maps, etc. You can build your own menu according to your interests. Depending on whether you are interested in MTV or eBay auctions, Hollywood gossip or bull runs in the market, you can add or delete what you want.
Not convinced? Visit the Yahoo! Go homepage on your PC before downloading it and take the app for a spin through an interactive demo.


Money Lite
This light app helps you track your expenses, deposits, transfers and other transactions.

Stop fumbling for the Silent button. Flip your phone over to mute the ring or refuse a call. Needs an accelerometer and works on limited handsets.

Phling! connects you to all podcasts and pictures stored on your PC.

Pocket Express
Get zippy access to news, sports, weather, stocks, travel, entertainment and other updates on your phone without deploying a browser.

A video-streaming app that enables you to share your life in real time with family and friends from your mobile phone.


It automatically captures geotagged pictures, video and audio on your phone and lets you share these with friends in real time.



Terrified of losing the contact numbers on your phone? Zyb backs up and syncs and updates your contacts to the Internet automatically.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Do Businesses require a Mobility App Store?

Future businesses to take a bite of an apple

by Purushottam Darshankar

It all started a year back, when Apple launched its App Store for the iPhone 3G, and ever since then, there has been enormous interest across the mobile ecosystem to emulate this model. The technology advancements in mobile computing- 3G networks, high resolution displays, battery life and more- are paving the way for a new generation of enterprise mobility applications. Needless to say, the future is mobile, as next phase of business mobility will go considerably beyond e-mails. The concept of App Store fundamentally changes the way in which the applications are made available on the mobile handset and have enormous implication on how the revenues are likely to be distributed across the value chain.

Following its popularity, many device vendors made their own software stores for their mobile platform. Palm published the “Application Store” similar to app store; Microsoft announced the “Windows Market place for Mobile” for windows mobile devices. RIM has launched its application store “BlackBerry App World” and Nokia announced the “Ovi Store” for its S60 and S40 devices.

The new trend in mobile enterprise market shows that businesses are not willing to purchase the middleware platform that connects mobile users to back end systems. Instead they are looking for prepackaged hosted solution where return on investment can be gained by improving the operational efficiencies of field service personnel.

But for the most part, hosted mobility services have not been popular because businesses want to keep the critical information in-house rather than allowing it to reside outside the firewall. Enterprises also need to think more about how mobility integrates with the existing enterprise infrastructure and what can be pushed into mobile environment as an application for their field personnel.

The most widely used mobile operating systems in business mobility are BlackBerry and Windows Mobile, with European enterprises often supporting Symbian as well. However, it is no surprise that iPhone has started making its presence in enterprise mobility market. Some of the enterprise mobility applications were hit and made its presence felt at App Store. Few of these applications require the involvement of company’s IT department as specific software needs to reside on organizations IT infrastructure.

At App Store, Oracle Business Approvals for Sales Representative/Managers allows user to review sales quotes and approve or reject them, and chart sales forecasts, quotas, and actual numbers. Salesforce.com recently posted an updated version of Salesforce Mobile for the iPhone to give salespeople access to contact and account information in Salesforce.com. JAMF Software's JSS Mobile lets IT pros manage their companies' Mac systems from their iPhones. Applications developed through the Enterprise Program are exclusively for institutional use which allows businesses to develop more proprietary applications not for public release.

In business mobility app store space, security issues are a top concern among organizations that must address strict security, regulatory requirements when implementing mobile device and application solutions. There will be few takers from banking, financial services and insurance firms for such service. As a result, it is believed that business app store will be more popular among SMBs, which typically don’t have as strict IT requirements as large enterprises. The other advantage is its low risk high ROI proposition as such application services will be charged to businesses on usage based i.e. “On-Demand” pricing or fixed payment for each user.

In general, the Business mobility app store will appeal more to the small and medium businesses than the bigger organization. The horizontal solution will be more successful as it will see more users cutting across the verticals than domain specific solution which heavily depends on the backend applications at organization IT infrastructure.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Business model innovation for managed mobility services

Telco managed revenue shared model for enterprise mobility

by Purushottam Darshankar

Today’s mobile devices with their significant processing power, multimodal communication and large storage capabilities are fast proving to be a productivity improver by enabling the business users to make better decisions by using up-to-date enterprise information, wherever they are working.

While field services and sales applications are the largest opportunities for mobility solutions, CIOs, CXOs, technical managers are busy working on ROI estimates to take go, no-go decisions. On one hand it brings direct benefits in terms of productivity improvement and few indirect benefits such as increased employee satisfaction, improved customer satisfaction that could save business thousands of dollars. On the other hand, there is ever increasing diversity of mobile devices and costs associated with managing and integrating these devices into organizations IT infrastructure, training, support, networks and recurring costs of data connectivity. There needs to be balance between the operational efficiencies and costs. The TCO of mobility solution may vary depending on the functionalities, middleware, type of architecture and deployment. The decision needs to be taken strategically and not purely on traditional ROI and TCO model.

Given the underlying complexities of mobility solution, it is necessary to have pilot-run prior to full scale all functionality deployment. Also, it is necessary to take serious look at the duration of productivity plateau, when it will be necessary to upgrade the solution and finally when it will be time to retire the solution.

With the economic slowdown enterprises want to stay lean. Faced with tight budget constraints and stretched operating budgets, every business is looking to cut the initial capital investment and recurring operating costs of the mobility solution. This has led to emergence of new business model of managed mobility services that uses a common platform to integrate, support and manage the mobility solution.

The current telecom market is very competitive and operators are constantly looking for new revenue sources. As a result, many telecom operators are now adapting to provide managed mobility services with revenue share model to add new revenue source. They are encouraging the solution providers to use their network resources to provide services to businesses and share the revenue earned. Solution providers are also attempting “non linear growth” to increase their revenue by investing in building the vertical solution for various verticals.

There are compelling financial and technical reasons why businesses will move from premise based services to hosted shared services model. The businesses can save on their capital investment as they stay away from purchasing, operating and maintaining any IT infrastructure for mobility solution. Telco managed shared services provides high reliability, security and uptime so that businesses can more focus on their core competency.

It is important that appropriate security infrastructure be in built into such shared services model. If proper measures are taken, shared services can offer a safe, secure and reliable means of communicating sensitive information and provide businesses with a mobile service infrastructure that is as secure as any organization's “traditional” IT infrastructure.

The pricing model for such services is usage based “On-Demand” pricing, fixed monthly payment for each user. The business does not bear any risk of losing the money. The telecom operators have required flexibility to scale-up or scale down based on rapid fluctuations in its customer demands and needs.

The hosted shared services model provides opportunity to businesses to pilot-run their services to demonstrate their ROI for decision making. Once successfully adapted by their end user the managed service model will place the businesses on longer term benefit.

Whether launching new mobility services or to manage the existing one , businesses can always look at managed mobility services option provided by operators that manages all part of mobility solution and also offers flexible per-user pricing option.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mobile Web or Mobile Application ? - which way to go

Posted by Amit , http://fivemobile.com/development/mobile-web-mobile-apps

Having been in the mobile space for a number of years, I’m often asked by prospective customers whether they should develop a mobile website or create a downloadable application that runs on the handsets. The short answer is, it depends on what your trying to accomplish.

Developing for the Mobile Web

Web development on mobile phones has long suffered from a very rigid platform and the inability for mobile browsers to keep up with current web technologies. This is slowly changing, partially due to the recent spikes in Smartphone handset sales. With many handset manufacturers attempting to clone the iPhone’s usability and appeal, a larger focus has been placed on the content on mobile phones, which in turn, requires better software to render this content. For example, both the iPhone and Blackberry Bold browsers can view HTML pages and process JavaScript. Technologies such as Flash have been rumored to be coming in the near term, but it will take some time before its supported on a large number of devices.

The “Pros” for Developing Mobile Web Applications

- The cost of supporting a mobile web application is relatively cheap in comparison to a downloadable application
- Accordingly, the speed at which a mobile website can be created is relatively quick
- If you have an existing high traffic web destination, developing a mobile version makes sense as your site already has a brand attached to it and a loyal following
- Higher-end devices are beginning to support existing desktop browser capabilities thus making the delta between your mobile and desktop browser experience smaller
- Deployment of a mobile website is quite simple
- The mobile web allows you to develop on a single platform and target the broadest set of launched across all handsets

The “Cons” for Developing Mobile Web Applications

- Currently, mobile websites are unable to take advantage of device specific features
- Ex: For the same reasons you can’t use a website to burn a CD, you cannot use a mobile website to access your phone’s contact list
- This is why high traffic sites such as Facebook will create both a mobile website and downloadable application
- Relatively speaking, interfaces on mobile websites are quite poor and clunky resulting in a less than desirable user experience
- Currently, support for AJAX and DHTML technologies is quite limited
- Despite developing for a single platform, developers must take into account mobile device idiosyncrasies across different handsets, firmware versions and operators
- Users must be connected at all times… there is no concept of an “offline mode”
- With the increase in mobile handset vendors, there has also been an increase in browser fragmentation
- On the web, typically developers are focused on Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer and Safari
- In the mobile space, there are 10+ relevant browsers and many more in development
Mobile website owners must rely heavily on 3rd party sources such as Device Atlas to understand device characteristics

Developing Mobile Applications

Similar to the mobile web, the native capabilities of handsets have improved and so have the associated SDKs. If you’re watching how Apple markets the iPhone, its all about letting users know that their device is more than just a phone. Specifically, they showcase applications created for the handset that leverage it’s unique capabilities. In general, Apple has done a fantastic job of making users feel comfortable in downloading content to their handsets. It’s not only helped them, but it’s opened up the floodgates across other platforms.

The “Pros” for Developing Mobile Applications

- Mobile applications can interact directly with the device obtaining useful information such as location, contact lists, accelerometer functions, etc. This is critical for a “mobile” application
- Having the ability to control exactly what is displayed on screen allows for customized (and optimized), rich user interfaces directly on the device
- User interactions can also be directly controlled via the possible inputs (touch, voice, keyboard, etc)
- In your mobile application, you are able to store reasonable amounts of data directly on the handset in a secure manner as opposed to storing everything on a remote server (slow!)
- Performance can typically be optimized for each handset and platform
Mobile (Smartphone) development platforms are improving quite rapidly
- Developers can create a consistent look and feel throughout their application
- Measurement in terms of how users interact with an application is possible

The “Cons” for Developing Mobile Applications

- Unless proper design measures are taken, upkeep and continued portability of your application is difficult to maintain.
- There are 5-6 relevant mobile application development platforms to choose from, and understand which ones best suit your needs can be confusing
- Within these platforms, additional fragmentation exists at a per device, firmware and operator level
- Typically, developing rich mobile applications is more costly than creating a mobile website
- Mobile applications may require porting to additional platforms and this takes up front consideration
- A single, publicly available source for data across all mobile handset characteristics and attributes as they relate to the individual SDKs does not exist
- Testing can be time consuming and costly as mobile applications must be tested on the physical handset
- One needs to understand the various carrier requirements if an “on deck” strategy is preferred

In conclusion, it very much depends on your organization’s goals with regards to the mobile application. If it’s simply an extension of your mobile website, is heavily content focused and does not require an interactive user experience, then the mobile web may be a better choice. If one requires access to device functionality such as location or the contact list and have an appropriate development and porting strategy formed (either internally, or through a partner) that will help minimize the effects of device fragmentation, then developing a mobile application makes sense.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mobility advantage of dual mode phones to enterprises

by Purushottam Darshankar

Dual mode phones that are capable of communicating with more than one form are increasingly becoming popular as organization seeks to be more productive. From an enterprise market point of view, having this ability is of great advantage as it makes organization more agile and more responsive to emerging market opportunities and to support increasing customer demands.

The dual mode handset market is picking up fast and according to a new report from Juniper research, the worldwide revenues of dual mode phones are expected to reach over $82bn by 2012.

In order to build the capability for mobile employees to stay connected over dual mode phones, infrastructure side will want to support both cellular and WiFi-type voice application and phone manufacturers will want their devices to work over both networks. There have been some challenges for seamless roaming between cellular and WiFi environment. There’s a lot of interference that eats into your WiFi network capacity, causing things such as retransmissions and jitter. If you’re just running data you won’t necessarily notice it, but when you start to run real-time applications such as voice, you suddenly realize that your WiFi network is not as tuned-up as you had hoped. Security and interoperability between different access point, gateway, and devices like WiFi/GSM handsets may be an issue.

The phones that do not support multitasking such as iPhone may drop your ongoing VOIP call when cellular call arrives. The Google Android phone does not expose adequate information through the WiFi API to allow the VOIP client to take hand-off decisions. The Java environment on most of the devices does not expose enough functionality for application developer to develop the voice over IP (VOIP) client. Nokia includes a SIP stack in their E-series and N-Series phones to support this technology in their dual mode phones.

Use of SIP – Session Initiation Protocol- provides multimodal communication capabilities that provide faster and secure communication. The presence capability can help to know employee presence availability status, thereby deciding the mode of call before user makes the call. The Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) has been accepted as the protocol of choice for voice over IP calls.

The enterprises are quickly seeing the advantage of such devices as not only their workforce becomes more mobile, but it also brings a cost advantage to them. It has been observed that 30% of office calls are now received on mobile phones, instead of desktop phones, even if the employees are in office. Also, a study by the International Teleworking Association found that between 50 to 70 percent of office space is unoccupied during normal business hours. To provide the ultimate in on-premises mobility, enterprises are complementing hotdesking practices with on-premises wireless LAN (WLAN) networks ensuring mobile access to all types of enterprise information. This improves customer responsiveness, improve productivity and save office space costs as organizations are going for shared desk policy.

The enterprises don’t have to pay carriers if they are making calls working of their premise over Wi-Fi. It is easy to justify the cost benefit at enterprise level; the resistance has been from the carriers as they do not see how they can really make money on them.

Advanced features and services that up-to-now have only been available to the desk are now broadly available to enterprise users everywhere due to the potential of the dual mode mobile console. This is a new class of enterprise mobility.