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Taking the Enterprise Mobile: Developer Roundtable : Page 5

Though it is certainly exciting and fast moving technology, mobility has still managed to schlep sloppily into the enterprise. It's here, arguably, but its transformative powers are elusive. Find out what four developers say about the recent past and the immediate potential for a truly mobilized enterprise in this fast-paced roundtable discussion with DevX editors.


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Moving Away from 'Dumb Voice Terminals'
JOKINEN: I was interested in asking the others how important mobile phone terminals are because it seems to me in the U.S. Palm and Pocket PCs are more important than mobile phones.

SENICK: We see a lot of Palm phones out there, and then, of course, the Pocket PC. But a lot of the devices that we have in the U.S. market today I would classify strictly as voice terminals, if you will. The Series 60 is hitting the market much bigger this year.

BACHMANN: It is about volume, and in the U.S., specifically, it is a bit early. We have great expectations for the conversion of the millions of—as Craig put it—the dumb voice terminals that people are kind of carrying around in their pockets over to a smarter phone-oriented platform. Whether that's a Symbian phone, a Palm phone, or a Pocket PC phone, I think the market will decide. But we know it's going to happen.



The Treo 600, which I'm actually on this call on, is a great device as are many of the new phones. It's just a matter that these things need to penetrate the market. They need to come down a little bit in price. But I think the carriers have a big part to play there.

We expect to see the same thing happen in SmartPhones. You'll always be able to buy a top of the line thing that does everything and it's just beautiful and awesome, but the price point should be pushed down to where it's more common to find that your average cell phone is equivalent to a PDA.

GUR: I wouldn't say that we see it as phones vs. PDAs. We definitely see it as operating systems. Symbian is much stronger in Europe than it is in the U.S. at this stage.

However, to some extent I would say that we do see more sales into the phone market into the U.S. as well with the advent of SmartPhone, Pocket PC, or Palm-based in the U.S., and we do hope that Symbian, especially through Nokia, would make some progress [in the U.S.] this year.

BACHMANN: I think there needs to be a lot of education to the marketplace, to the consumer, and to the enterprise of what these devices can do. I mean, it's not a phone—it's information management, e-mail, it's browsing the Web. It's providing true mobility on a wireless device. That's going to take some education by the carriers, by the manufacturers, and a general acceptance by the consumer.

Support is a major concern. Certainly right now we stand tall behind our products and provide great support for our customers. But the enterprise folks don't know that; they don't know about Bachmann Software or Mobility Electronics or anybody else on this call. They tend not to buy our solutions directly from us, and they don't really want to piece together things from 15 different vendors. Those are all relationships they have to manage. They have to deal with support issues and upgrade the maintenance and worry whether the solution is going to be around for a very long time. I think that's a major problem.

Part of it is visibility in the first place to the buyer at the enterprise level, but also can the supply chain and the intermediaries bring together our various pieces and present them to the enterprise buyer as a well supported, well integrated, overall solution.

The Next Big Thing
DevX: So what's the next big thing?

GUR: What we hope to do this year is bring together desktop and mobile computing to a larger extent. Whether you consume [the application] on your desktop because you're now at your desk or you consume it at your mobile because you're out of the office traveling, we want you to have a very unified experience. Information should be available in both places. You should be able to communicate from a mobile device to the desktop device and vice versa. I think this multi-modality is one of the things that this market needs in order to continue growing.

JOKINEN: Our next opportunity is when Nokia's 90 series phones are available—really available. Then we will have a phone that is good enough to offer anything we have in the PC-based Internet service in a mobile terminal. A good browser, a larger screen, and with EDGE we have bandwidth.

Then we won't have to think about mobile applications or desktop applications. We'll have one set of services available regardless of the terminal, regardless of where we are. Today, we still have to do subsets for the mobile terminal.

SENICK: As far as our next big thing, we are going to provide a rich user experience for mobile devices specifically within the Symbian OS. Users will have a similar experience on a wireless device for creating, editing, saving, modifying your standard PC-based documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. That's a great opportunity for the world to have a mini-substitute, if you will, of what they have on their tethered PC or laptop, and we're pretty excited about it.

BACHMANN: Our vision where all this stuff is going is that these devices will eventually become—some are now—but more will eventually become really first-class computing citizens both on a wide area network as well as integrated into your office and home networks. There's nothing preventing these devices from working within those environments as well as, if not better, than your laptop does, and that means network connectivity. That means file and print services. That means office capabilities. That means e-mail.

It's a small form factor, and certainly there are different approaches to how to solve these problems that need to be taken into account. You certainly just can't fold up your laptop and cram it into a SmartPhone. But there's nothing like being on the road and needing to do something on a daily basis and you've got this SmartPhone in your hand, and you realize just because you don't have the right software or connectivity that you can't do it.

This week we introduced the new version of our FilePoint file manager application that will have the ability to access and copy directly off Windows-based networks file servers and that means browsing network shares. Basically you're looking at something akin to Windows Explorer on your handheld, and we think it's a great leap forward for knocking down those barriers.



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