Mobility surge

As consumers continue to drive the adoption of smartphones and tablets, the market for mobile computing solutions has never been better.

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Mobility surge Santosh Varghese, General Manager, Digital Products and Services, Toshiba Gulf FZE
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By  Manda Banda Published  July 20, 2013

As consumers continue to drive the adoption of smartphones and tablets, the market for mobile computing solutions has never been better. In a highly competitive market though, how do vendors differentiate themselves from their competitors, and provide a compelling proposition to channel partners?

The rapid growth of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) has got most regional channel players to focus on this sector, with many unveiling mobility strategies and new business divisions.

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon has taken the midmarket by storm, and has brought with it some actionable, cost-saving opportunities. By allowing employees to bring their own devices to connect to a company’s IT infrastructure and network, physical hardware costs are significantly reduced. It seems like a no-brainer.

According to recent results released by International Data Corporation (IDC), the tablet market in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region grew 184%, year on year, in Q1 2013, to reach a total of 2.25m units.

The dramatic surge stemmed mainly from the home segment, aided by steady expansion in the business sector. In particular, there was a considerable increase in demand from MEA businesses for tablets running Windows OS.

“Growing demand from the commercial segment is expected in the coming years, especially within the education sector,” said Victoria Mendes, a research analyst for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC.

Traditional PC vendors, although initially counting on the Windows 8 platform to grow their tablet market share, are now pushing their Android devices, alongside Windows, at competitive prices in order to capture business from low-cost tablet vendors.

Multinational vendors such as Asus and Acer, as well as other far-Eastern and regional brands are also expected to launch more Android-based tablets in 2013.

In the smartphone segment, Android and iOS, have continued to rank as the top two smartphone operating systems worldwide, accounting for a combined 92.3% of all smartphone shipments in Q1, 2013, according to IDC.

Santosh Varghese, general manager, Digital Products and Services, at Toshiba Gulf FZE, said new innovations in the smartphone segment are preventing the replacement cycle of PCs and notebooks. Varghese said in order to increase the replacement cycle, the PC and notebook segment needs to redefine its user experience, focus on lightweight machines and longer battery life.

“Smartphones and tablets can never replace desktop and notebooks,” he said. “Notebooks could replace desktop in the near future, while smartphones and tablets are more of consumption devices, unlike desktops and notebooks, which are more of productivity gadgets that create content for consumption on tablet or smartphones.”

Osama Rasoul, sales manager, Borderless Networks Architectures at Cisco, said there is no doubt that mobile computing trends offer benefits for employers, such as greater innovation, a better work-life balance and improved productivity. Rasoul explained that resellers should be looking at new ways of offering mobile computing solutions to their customers now, as this trend is going to become a more prevalent issue
for enterprises.

“The main challenge that resellers face is identifying the right mobility and security solution for their customers, as the requirements for each business can differ greatly. Resellers need to work closely with technology vendors to be educated on the vast array of mobility solutions available and the specific benefits that they can bring for their customers.

Rasoul said the consumerisation of IT and the rise of BYOD in the Middle East has compelled enterprises regardless of the vertical industry, to adopt necessary mobile computing solutions in order to manage and secure devices and data.

He said depending on the vertical and market focus, companies tend to reap different benefits. For instance, said Rasoul, service-oriented companies may experience the greatest impact on employee productivity and customer satisfaction as a result of implementing mobility solutions. “We are actually witnessing that enterprises across all verticals are looking at new ways of utilising mobile computing solutions to make their processes easier for the customer and consumers. The key challenge for enterprises is how they can do this securely and cost effectively,” he noted.

Whether or not these mobile devices are replacing desktops and notebooks or merely delaying PC purchases is beside the point. What is clear in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe is that tablets and smartphones are in demand, and new PCs are not.

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