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October 12, 2010


Is IBM mobile enough?

By Larry Walsh

This is a surprise? Cloud and mobile are the two hottest areas of IT – so an IBM survey has found. The 2010 IBM Tech Trends Survey, conducted online by IBM developerWorks, is based on answers from 2,000 IT developers and specialists in 87 countries. Indeed, the survey confirms what we already know — that IT pros see cloud and mobile as key strategies.

For the moment, let’s turn our attention away from cloud and focus on mobile.

The news: Microsoft has just made a major pitch with Windows Phone 7. As has traditionally been its approach, Microsoft has waited for innovators to create the market before diving in and attempting to claim a big piece of the market. With a reported $100 million to be spent on an advertising campaign, its bringing all its considerable market muscle to bear.

Elsewhere, the competitive landscape looks like this: HP wants to be a significant device player, having bought Palm and building on a traditionally strong commitment to handheld devices. And of course, RIM has BlackBerrry, Apple has iPhone and Google has the Android platform. Those three companies are responsible in large part for the mobile market being as hot as it is.

What about IBM? Back in June, 2010, IBM made a mobile splash, dedicating mobile R&D facilities in Littleton and Westford, MA. Basically, IBM’s strategy is to work from the data center on out, seeking to integrate mobile nodes with enterprise applications and data, particularly Lotus Notes, and seeking to get mobile computing providers to use its back-end software and middleware.

Since IBM’s own survey shows that mobile technology is of keen interest to its customers and represents a huge opportunity, is IBM really doing enough to satisfy those customers or to realize its own ambitions? Is it smart to let others slug it out on the low-margin device level while seeking to integrate at the back end? That’s the strategy IBM has been executing in the PC market for the better part of a decade now. It has enabled IBM to focus on the high margin markets of IT — software and integration. It’s a strategy that has kept IBM highly profitable and brought IBM stock to its all-time high.

But when it comes to mobile, will it be enough? Just asking.

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  15. Feb 13 2012

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