Let’s straighten a couple of things out – BYOD exists entirely because of Microsoft, not the iPad, and not because of any Android devices. The reason why is because of ActiveSync. An iPad without ActiveSync is a giant Kindle Fire – a consumption device. The same goes for Android devices and for both of those smartphone platforms. Without ActiveSync, you do not get to a majority of corporate email. If somewhere along the line during this explosion of mobility, had Microsoft closed off ActiveSync, there would be no BYOD. People would not have started bringing them into IT environments and trying to do much business-wise because without email, calendaring, and contacts, they would be useless. So we’re looking at a couple of things here and some interesting developments in the world of enterprise mobility. The end state could be that Google and Apple are playing themselves right out of the enterprise.
The Microsoft Surface is an exceedingly needed business computing device, and there is a real anticipation building along with other Windows 8 touchscreen and convertible devices. Just look from a high-level the biggest need the Surface fulfills – a true, full-fledged, polished Windows 8 experience in an enterprise grade business-design tablet form for just about $1000. IT departments are surely considering the prospect of deploying a standardized base of configurable devices in a world that up until now consisted of a countless onslaught of concerns including connection methods, security concerns, fragmented hardware, just to name a few challenges.
Looking at some Apple news, a couple of weeks ago, news emerged that Apple was in a negotiating war with Microsoft over Office 365 revenue. Microsoft basically doesn’t feel like it should hand 30 percent of the subscription revenue over to Apple. They shouldn’t. Apps are one thing, where 30% is a traditional and consistent arrangement in the Apple Store – but subscription percentage? Reports are that Apple has refused to negotiate at all on this and the companies are at a standstill. Apple is turning down a lot of money by refusing to accept anything less. Microsoft could also be looking at a lot of missed customers that are currently on iOS devices. The takeaway here is that Microsoft does have its own tablet and smartphone device that does this natively. Now put yourself in the shoes of the non-jaded corporate CIO, IT director or whomever, and you’re looking at Apple’s iPad and iPhone products – you see this commotion, you consider all that you have to do to support, secure and deploy their products in the first place – there’s going to be a lot of people very turned off by this and the absence of the Office suite is without a doubt a very painful thing to endure.
Let’s jump to Google – of which some devices are Office 365 friendly, but the issue is different here. Google announced that starting January 30, users of Google mail along with its calendar and contacts will no longer receive Exchange ActiveSync on their accounts. The move is part of a wide change in Google mail products meant to start to monetize the services. They famously discontinued the free version of Google Apps for Business and substituted a $50/year model for all new customers. The ActiveSync move predicates a growing push by Google to ramp up its enterprise aspirations. Amit Singh, Google’s head of enterprise stated to AllThingsD that the company’s enterprise goals included snatching up 90 percent of Microsoft’s Office users. Microsoft general manager Julia White responded to Google’s enterprise ambitions in the New York Times –
Their ambition for the enterprise, if Singh’s statements ring true- could mean a number of things, it most certainly means a continuing war on new fronts, but the most interesting is that Google could be eyeing a proprietary fee-based corporate email revenue stream in the form of a new Android email push/connect service. In other words, you may have to pay to connect to Exchange in the enterprise. It is in any case the latest in a direct salvo on Windows 8 users. Now think back to the CIO looking at all this. Is that person likely to want to support Android devices with all their fragmentation, security issues, various connection methods and workarounds, and even worse – Google could be forcing business IT what service to use to connect their devices.
Bringing this back to BYOD – a certified and fascinating business phenomenon – with all this commotion around devices that as a business you never intended to support in the first place, who could possibly wish to maintain implementing that technology? It turns out free wasn’t free after all. Despite various workarounds, add-on apps, synchronization and connection methods the fact is that none of these devices integrate well with business and these startling events will hasten the death of BYOD. The enterprise in general is poised to reject these devices by embracing Windows 8 and Surface devices. We very well could be singing the tune of Microsoft cannot keep up with the demand for Surface Pro in a matter of months and in fact it is likely we will see some other form factor computers from Microsoft in the future to fill other needs.