A consumerized enterprise IT realm is de rigueur in early 2015

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthFew consumer tech commentators, if any, would argue there is much of a market for laptop PCs within their target audience. If these devices are in demand anywhere, the likely market segment is enterprise computing.

So the new 12 inch Macbook with Retina display, which was presented to a global audience during Apple’s “Spring Forward”, March 9, 2015 event is targeted to the enterprise computing market, right? Perhaps. But where, then, is the usual CAT5 port for wired Ethernet data communications? The answer is it does not exist.

Almost every commentator writing about the debut of this device emphasized the strategic forward thinking of the design of this laptop based on a USB Type C port as its sole interface for networks, charging, etc. To simply quote from one of these reviews, readers might want to consider the following comment, which appears in a post to The Verge blog titled Hands-on with the new 12-inch MacBook with Retina Display. Dieter Bohn, who wrote the post, remarks “the screen actually isn’t the most important part of this new MacBook. No, instead it’s the small port on the side, a USB Type-C port that serves as the power jack, a do-anything USB port, a display port, and essentially anything else you could imagine using a cable for.”

The strategic impact of this decision to dispense with a hard wired Ethernet option for a device intended to compete with Windows PCs (or, is the target Microsoft’s Surface 3 two-in-ones?) within the enclaves of businesses, only makes sense in a brave new world of enterprise computing, one ruled over by an autocratic obsession with consumerized IT. It just is not safe to look to wireless data communications for everything.

Readers need not fear Microsoft has been left out of this criticism. The Surface Pro 3 two-in-one also lacks a native Ethernet interface. But there is a docking station option for the Microsoft entry in this category. Per the March 9, 2015 presentation, there does not appear to be one for the 12 inch Macbook.

No industry expert argues for entirely wireless data communications for mission-critical information. It is just too dangerous from a data security perspective. The 12 inch Macbook should have a docking station. One would hope Apple will announce one very soon.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved


Android remains a difficult opportunity for Google to successfully manage

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthGoogle recently announced its intention to proceed with a wireless data service. The latest spin on this decision, exemplified by an article published on the Wall Street Journal web site on March 8, 2015, takes this step as an indicator of a new, more frugal Google. But seen from a different angle it looks like an aggressive shot at Google’s partners in the Android alliance.

The title of the Journal article is Google: The Value of Thrift. The piece was written by Dan Gallagher and points to some recent steps taken by Google, which Gallagher presents as evidence of real follow through on points made during their most recent Quarterly earning report. Gallagher writes about the report: “Google hinted that it might curb its spending after a year in which capital expenditure surged 49% to nearly $11 billion.”

Gallagher finds an important example of this new campaign, at work, in some public announcements from Google about their decision to go forward as a wireless data provider. Gallagher notes “The Wall Street Journal also reported that the [wireless service to be offered by Google] will be limited to customers using Google’s own Nexus phones, which make up only a small portion of the overall Android market.”

But if I were the President of Samsung, or LG, or any other of Google’s partners in the Android mobile O/S effort, I don’t think I would be too pleased to learn the team managing the overall Android stack has just now decided to debut a promising wireless data effort (to deliver high quality/very high speed wireless data services from pipes supplied by T-Mobile, Sprint and more) for only its own phones. Why not mine too? I venture this phrase bounced around a few conference rooms when the news of this plan broke during Mobile World Congress 2015.

In my opinion this move is simply the latest in a series of steps likely to cause more headache for Google than anything else. The real sore spot, of course, is the damage a self-serving deal like this one can wreak on a very important recent effort on Google’s part to improve its penetration of the enterprise computing market. Certainly Android partners like Samsung are critically important to the success of this effort. Research has demonstrated enterprise IT organizations look at the Samsung Android device platform as one of, if not the only, line of Android devices worth serious consideration for an enterprise rollout. So why leave them out in the cold on this one?

It’s hard for me to get behind Google’s “moon shots” when they stumble around as they appear to have done on this one.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved


Federal Appeals Court Ruling on Net Neutrality, If Upheld, Looks Like a Game Changer for High Speed Data Providers

On January 14, 2014, the news broke of a Federal Appeals Court ruling, which blocks the Net Neutrality rules of the U. S. FCC. If this ruling is upheld, then high speed data providers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc) can begin to capture much more value from their current plant in terms of larger profits.

I’ve posted my opinion of what appears to me to be curiously limited profits for providers of high speed data services. I based it on a combination of indicators. One of these is my observation of recent efforts by Verizon, the largest wireless data provider here in the U.S., to sell bandwidth. The other is what I refer to as wireless data customer “recycling”, which goes like this: The major U.S. high speed data providers each make what I consider to be overly aggressive offers to consumers. The consumers who bite on these offers are expected to simply shuffle from one provider to another for essentially the same service.

Does it make sense for Verizon, AT&T, et al to pay for the early termination charges consumers will incur by switching plans? Before this ruling I answered this question in the negative. The only justification for the cash sign-on bonus for consumers would have to be an effort to reduce competition in a market where high speed data is a mere commodity.

Please note the timing of the first sighting of this phenomenon — AT&T kicked it off after Sprint announced its interest in acquiring T-Mobile. Funny, I thought a few months ago AT&T wanted to buy T-Mobile, right? So wireless customer recycling, as I see it, is a fancy version of a very primitive “scorched earth” policy. Welcome to the new dark ages.

But this ruling will likely change everything, which I take to be very good news. For some reason most analysts are more concerned about the negative impact the ruling will have for businesses like Netflix, than they are taken by the brand new blue sky it opens for Verizon and its peers.

My dictum is the following: If no one can afford to put down the pipes required for all this high speed data, and operate a viable business from them, then the high speed data services are going to eventually go away, anyways. Therefore it’s better, overall, to make sure the providers are fed properly, or else the rest of the food chain (including Cisco, etc) will be hard pressed to make it through to the next meal. Netflix, Skype, etc are simply icing on the cake.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Wireless Carriers Recycle Consumers as Future Promise of Mobile Data Diminishes

If anyone is still skeptical about the likelihood of, at best, no more than a marginally profitable future for wireless data carriers (at least as these data networks are currently designed), the recent promotions offered by most of them should be seen as ample indication of the accuracy of this prediction. At least three of the major carriers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile — are offering the same offer: Switch over to us and we will pay you, per line, to make the change. The reason for the sign-on compensation is simple: pay prospects for the financial pain they will experience when they try to terminate their existing service contracts, or else they won’t make the change.

At the same time the wireless carriers have decided to make this very costly attempt to convince customers to switch over from competitors, the investment community seems to be finally seeing the mirage of enormous profits from this business for what it really is, namely a pure commodity business with, at best, marginal profitability on the near term horizon. On Thursday, January 9, 2014 the publicly traded stock for Sprint declined by more than 5%, while AT&T and Verizon each dropped by 2%.

I don’t think it is likely the manufacturers of cell phones will be insulated from the financial pain of this price war. The combined purchasing power of these 3 carriers is, of course, very great, so Samsung, Apple and Nokia may be assuming some of the cost burden relative to provisioning brand new phones as others are recycled (Disclaimer: this opinion is purely my conjecture as I have no data to indicate any participation by the cell phone manufacturers in this activity).

Cisco’s latest quarterly report makes a lot more sense when seen, now, in the context of these price wars. If AT&T, Verizon, etc, are not making the profits they planned on making from wireless data and the explosion of internet offers, then one can better understand why Cisco would be looking at a far more dismal near term market than one would have otherwise expected.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved