Report: The End Is Nigh For Mobile Enterprise Vendors - InformationWeek

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5/24/2007
01:59 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Report: The End Is Nigh For Mobile Enterprise Vendors

According to The 451 Group, tech vendors that sell mobile office and productivity apps will see their market consolidate with few survivors remaining. The research also highlights that the number of premium enterprise-device users will remain limited when compared to the overall mobile market, which will be dominated by consumers. This is not good news for the mobile enterprise.

According to The 451 Group, tech vendors that sell mobile office and productivity apps will see their market consolidate with few survivors remaining. The research also highlights that the number of premium enterprise-device users will remain limited when compared to the overall mobile market, which will be dominated by consumers. This is not good news for the mobile enterprise.Report author Tony Rizzo, director of research, Enterprise Mobile Technology Practice at The 451 Group, lays it on the line:

"Other than RIM, most of the vendors currently vying for a piece of the mobile office market have discovered that making direct enterprise sales is tough to pull off. It's gotten to the point where most of them have turned to the wireless carriers to open doors - and most of those doors will be in the consumer space."

I have to agree with Mr. Rizzo. More and more, the technology vendors I speak to are offering their services through the wireless carriers rather than selling directly to end users, whether they be enterprise or consumer. For end users, this is easier. Rather than having two or more relationships to manage, they get one large relationship: the network operator. This makes sense for both the consumer and the enterprise, and doesn't bode well for smaller players looking to add their services to devices and networks after the fact.

The analysis that The 451 Group performed on the real number of enterprise users is even more depressing. They believe just 20 million full-fledged smartphone users will need specialized enterprise services. The rest are prosumers and consumers, who are often happy to use common mobile platforms rather than the specialized smartphone platforms. This includes using mobile versions of Yahoo or Gmail e-mail services. Compared to the world's 2.7 billion mobile phone users, 20 million isn't even a drop in the bucket.

"Is this enough of a marketplace to generate sufficient revenue for the existing mix of vendors? We don't believe so," said Rizzo. "While there is room here for a few third-party vendors, the mobile office market does not look to us to be quite the 600-million-user marketplace that it might seem at first glance."

One point they make was covered in the Over The Air blog recently. Younger users, The Gen Yers and Millennials, are skipping email services altogether and making use of instant messaging and SMS/MMS services instead. The likelihood of them adopting mobile email services in the workforce isn't exactly encouraging.

Is The 451 Group sounding the death knell for email vendors like Seven, Good, Sybase iAnywhere, Visto? It thinks the market consolidation will take place in the next 12 to 24 months. This market has shown signs of resiliency in the past, but this is certainly not good news.

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