Wrong product, wrong time

At ACN, we’re often asked to cover product launches and review them for inclusion in the magazine

Tags: Apple IncorporatedBelkin International IncorporationMicrosoft CorporationUnited Arab Emirates
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By  Imthishan Giado Published  March 2, 2009

At ACN, we’re often asked to cover product launches and review them for inclusion in the magazine.

Usually, this implies that the person asking us has completely no idea what Arabian Computer News is all about – enterprise IT, for those of you still paying attention – but I would like to draw attention to the fact that we do try to judge every product we come across as an IT manager would.

Of course, some have less merit than others – pink Belkin iPod case, anyone? –while others initially seem flippant but eventually come around to being genuinely useful.

For the latter, I’m thinking of Apple’s iPhone, which has just been officially launched in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The object of Steve Jobs’s affection was initially promoted as a completely consumer-focused device and certainly found its way into the hands of many regional consumers through the winding roads of the grey market.

Eventually, Apple saw fit to provide a sop to enterprises in the form of integration with Exchange e-mail servers, as well as supporting the custom applications that most firms use – providing that the latter meets the fairly stringent licencing requirements of Apple’s SDK.

Over the US, the much-lauded device is still selling like hot cakes – over four million units in the first quarter of 2009 – and seems to have met with some initial success. Long-term, the outlook seems uncertain and to be very honest, I’m far from surprised.

You only had to attend one panel at last month’s IDC CIO summit to realise that virtually IT manager was sporting a BlackBerry of some description while the iPhone was nowhere in sight. Of course, it’s just anecdotal evidence and far from a death knell for the device as a whole. But one suspects that the iPhone will very much continue to remain a very consumer-focused handset – and that the Blackberry will maintain its place on the top of the enterprise pile for some time to come.

One product that will almost certainly have an impact is the upcoming Windows 7 operating system, slated to be released in the third quarter of this year. With the way that budgets are currently being revised, it’s unclear what sort of reception the OS will have in the Gulf, especially when the largely lethargic local take-up of Windows Vista is taken into account.

In my opinion, it’s going to be a hard sell. Part of the major attraction with new operating system releases is that they offer an entirely new user experience, taking the mundane tasks of PC activity and putting a fresh coat of paint on them. Yet by that very same token, it signifies hundreds of hours in lost productivity as enterprises have retrain their staff to use the new version, in addition to the dull but time consuming task of deploying it to hundreds of PCs.

A large part of what made the response to Vista so flaccid is that Microsoft was enormously bad at communicating what was new about its flagship OS, with the result that most people simply shrugged and said: “XP’s still good enough.” I fear that the same scenario is about to repeat itself and that enterprises will come to regard Windows 7 (Win7? W7? Seven?) in the same way.

In the current economic climate, IT departments have to justify every single investment they make, regardless of size, as well as forecasting the long-term impact on an organisation that may very well not be the same size in the future. Until vendors understand this imperative and revamp their approach, their products will continue to struggle in the marketplace.

3817 days ago

Let me agree on stamp, windows 7 i s indeed a good package from microsoft... and windows is made popular because of its user friendly feature. I tested windows 7 and I love it's performance I will definitely drop windows XP when this new version is out...

3820 days ago

I take it from your post that you haven't actually tested Windows 7. If you did, you would know that it doesn't require hundreds of hours to get used to. Any XP or Vista (even a MAC) user can master Windows 7 within minutes. In fact, it makes things much more easier and it is very user-friendly. As for installing it, believe it or not but I installed Win 7 Ultimate on my 2-year old Dell laptop in under 25 minutes. I do recommend you test Win7 before posting a conclusion....just to give your post some credibility, Imthishan

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