Bring your own device and the battle for the B2B space

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This year’s product launches suggested manufacturers are now developing consumer handsets with the business market firmly in mind. We asked industry experts who will boss B2B in the next 12 months

The past two months have been busy ones in mobile, particularly for the manufacturers. After a slow start to the year, the industry exploded into life in February as more than 80 handsets from some of the biggest players were unveiled at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

And as the dust was settling in Barcelona, Apple unveiled its third iPad device, ‘the New iPad’, which went on to sell a record-breaking three million units in a single week.

With the exception of a possible new high-end BlackBerry device and the iPhone 5’s inevitable arrival in the summer, the industry has now seen all the tools it has to play with, and look to do business with, in the next 12 months or so.

With the industry now able to absorb and digest the recent announcements, Mobile News spoke to some of its leading dealers, distributors and analysts to discuss how they see the remainder of 2012 panning out.

The responses, some of which have been included below, suggest the opportunities for manufacturers are more open to change than in previous years.

One noticeable change this year, in particular, was the manufacturers’ desire to provide devices targeted at both the B2B and consumer markets.

This reinforces the growing trend within the channel to cater for ‘bring your- own-device’ (BYOD) schemes, which call for smartphone devices that are capable of providing attractive consumer features such as games, basic email and user-friendly interfaces as well as more secure features for accessing corporate email and company documents and servers.

Market leader Samsung has again made its intentions clear by releasing a device that can cater for both, providing both business and consumer audiences with unique features.

Its Beam handset, which was unveiled at Mobile World Congress, impressed many with its ability to project images, and it will undoubtedly have a market audience. And while photo and video content immediately spring to mind, Samsung is quick to point out its business uses, such as projecting PowerPoint presentations on to any surface up to 50 inches away.

Carrying a single device in your pocket instead of struggling with a projector and a computer or laptop is certainly a key selling point.

Huawei has also made it clear that its focus is to penetrate both the consumer and B2B markets with its devices.

The handsets it has launched in recent weeks and months have all included attention-grabbing consumer features. Chief among these are the devices it has touted as the world’s thinnest and fastest smartphones.

But the manufacturer has made it clear that it is a serious player in both markets and that it does not separate its devices out into one or the other category.

Such are its ambitions, the manufacturer last month took the unprecedented step of holding its own dealer day event to discuss the benefits directly to the channel, but also to discuss ways in which it can engage with distributors – not the other way round – to build a credible proposition in business.

BlackBerry manufacturer RIM has long made it known that it wishes to gain share in the consumer market – with some success. However, it has recently stated its intentions to focus more on the B2B side, following some truly catastrophic publicity in 2011.

Unlike in previous years, it has become clear that BlackBerry is no longer the automatic choice for customers – or for the reseller. The view of the experts we spoke to, as to whether it can sustain its previous levels of success or not, were mixed.

The same goes for Nokia and its Windows Phone devices. Speaking to the channel, it seems many have already decided what its fate will be before giving it a chance, while others remain confident it can go some way towards recapturing Nokia’s past successes. Veecom MD Nick Gould goes as far as claiming Nokia’s Lumia devices have the biggest potential to affect the B2B market.

HTC, ZTE, Motorola and a rejuvenated Sony will also undoubtedly look to gain greater share in the business market, relying heavily on Android.

Of course, the iPhone cannot be ignored and is increasingly becoming the fashionable business phone of choice. With Apple already dominating the tablet market – a space expected to gain real traction in the coming months – the company is arguably in the strongest position to attract new business customers.

The adoption of BYOD in this instance could overcome the previous stumbling blocks related to the iPhone’s high costs. Mixing business with pleasure could result in a win-win situation for companies and their employees.

In conclusion, based on the views expressed below, the opportunities for handset manufacturers to gain share in the business market is greater than in previous years – and ultimately could define their individual futures in this space.

Full article in Mobile News issue 514 (May 21, 2012).

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