It started with Google’s announcement that it had acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, a move that will fundamentally alter the smartphone game. Explaining the acquisition, Google CEO, Larry Page explained: 'Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.'
I definitely see the Google-Motorola deal as a pivotal move that will be instrumental in shaking up the tablet market. Analysts are even predicting that Google Android-based tablets will outsell the Apple iPad by 2013. But there is still a lot of work for Google to do from a channel perspective. To generate these big numbers in tablet sales, Google is going to have to sell to enterprise, so getting this channel in place quickly will be paramount.
Three days later, if that wasn’t enough excitement for the mobility industry, Hewlett-Packard announced it was discontinuing operations for its webOS devices, including its just-released TouchPad tablet and webOS smartphones. Surprising, yes, but I think it just demonstrates how difficult it is for a company to control both the hardware and the software. HP was lacking the non-hardware eco-system to support their smartphones; iTunes, the App Store, the developer platform, which puts them and other hardware manufacturers at a huge disadvantage compared with Apple.
The market is ripe for upheaval and I’m sure HP will not be the last to bow out of the market. But what they need to do now is quickly communicate with partners regarding their strategy around mobility moving forward and how it fits with client devices to settle the channel.
Steve Jobs stepping down as Apple’s CEO was the third blow to the mobility industry.
In a letter to Apple’s board of directors and employees, Jobs suggested he could 'no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO.' He asked the board to activate a prearranged succession plan and Tim Cook was named as CEO.
But Apple hasn’t just been run solely by Steve Jobs and at this early stage, analysts generally seem to think that Apple will more than survive its co-founder handing off the reins to Cook.
But the leadership change doesn’t fix the lack of support for the enterprise market. Companies looking to deploy or support Apple products in their environment, face lack of support from Apple and channel partners. This is a massive area of enterprise opportunity for Apple or any other major LAR looking to provide after point of sale parts and services.
With the widely expected release of the next-generation iPhone, iPhone 5 in either September or October, and the next iPad sometime in early 2012, Apple too need to be having theses conversations with the channel to open up the enterprise market.
With service providers left evaluating where to place their bets in this newly emerging mobility landscape, one thing is clear, and that is every vendor needs to develop a channel strategy for the smartphone and tablet device market. Vendors that want to win share in the high-margin mid-market and enterprise markets need to establish relationships with solution providers who can secure and manage these new devices for them.