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Support for workers adding their own devices to company networks declined in New Zealand over the past year according to research commissioned by Unisys. The same report said there is now more support for company-owned phones and tablets.

You could interpret this as meaning bring-your-own-device was nothing more than a passing fad. That’s possible. However, there’s something more complicated going on.

A generation ago people lugged desktop computers into their offices so they could work better. There was even an early Apple advertisement showing this happening with the original Macintosh. And they were not easily portable.

Bring your own problems

In many cases those workers sneaked computers into the building without the approval or knowledge of the company’s IT department. Pretty soon departments were spending their budgets on small computers and before long were asking for IT support.

In other words, it took a grass-roots revolution to put PCs on office desks. And that’s what’s happening with mobile devices.

People at the coal face often have a better idea of how they can work productively than their CIOs and managers. Some of them took the initiative and brought their own kit to the workplace. It happened in the 1980s and is happening again today.

We’re seeing another grass-roots revolution.

BYOD channels grass-roots

From a management point of view BYOD is about channeling this grass-roots movement bringing it more in line with a company’s big picture goals and strategy. They worry about supporting the devices, about security and about staying in control. They should worry less.

As devices, cloud computing and software as a service become more mainstream – Microsoft’s Windows tablet and Windows Phone 8 smartphones are examples – BYOD will be less of an issue.

BYOD is not a passing fad but a logical and necessary step en route to the post-PC era.

New Zealand’s fibre to the home network roll-out is gathering momentum. Some say it will trigger an economic revival.

So it may seem like a bad time to bring this up: Japanese fixed network operators have been forced to slash their prices to stem the flow of customers fleeing fibre networks for wireless broadband.

In other words, the people have spoken and the message is clear: Given a choice they don’t want fibre to the home, they want wireless broadband.

The story in the link is written by Tony Brown who is an analyst for Informa – a company that specialises in watching telecommunications markets. He says younger people prefer personalised broadband services to household plans. As he points out, if they took a household service, they’d still need to pay for wireless plan anyway.

Windows 8 Telecom NZPerhaps the most remarkable feature of today’s Windows Phone 8 launch held at Telecom’s headquarters in Auckland was the scale of the event.

Almost 50 people were packed into Telecom’s presentation room. There were journalists, bloggers, a film crew and representatives from at least five companies as well as at least a dozen Telecom employees. I counted at least a dozen Windows 8 devices – certainly not all phones.

There were devices on show in the presentation room and then out in the main atrium area where three displays showing Windows 8 devices at home, at work and at play. There were even remote control cars being driven by phones.

Consistent Windows 8 on every device

Clearly the intention was to show Windows 8’s consistency across desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. This point was underlined by Telecom chief executive retail Chris Quin and Microsoft New Zealand managing director Paul Muckleston during their presentations.

The event was by far the largest technology product announcement I’ve seen in Auckland in the last seven or eight years. And that goes to underline Telecom’s determination to carve out the Windows Phone 8 territory ahead of its rivals.

Telecom plans to begin selling Windows 8 phones later this week. On show at the event were models from Nokia, Samsung and HTC. All were impressive devices. The first phone to hit the streets will be Nokia’s $999 Lumia 920.

Real interest

A Nokia representative told me there’s a real interest in this phone, far more than with the company’s earlier Windows Phone products and initial quantities shipped to Telstra in Australia sold out immediately.

Vodafone is expected to offer its own Windows Phone 8 devices before Christmas.

Today’s event comes two weeks after I wrote NZ carriers not behind Windows Phone 8 – that story is now outdated.

Everybody in the business IT world is talking about BYOD. Bring-your-own-device is what happens when companies allow or even encourage employees to choose their own workplace computers, phones or tablets.

BYOD can cause headaches for companies and CIOs, not least because of the cost of supporting dozens of different devices, multiple operating systems, hundreds of apps and so on. And then there are the security issues.

I caught a session by Cisco’s Vaughan Klein at Gen-i’s recent IP Voice seminar where he gave the best explanation I’ve seen so far, why problems are transitory.

Klein says BYOD will soon give way to bring-your-own-application and that in turn will give way to bring-your-own-browser.

Before long web browsers will deliver just about every business computer application – this includes the heavyweight suites from companies like Oracle and SAP. When that happens the support and security burden on companies will ease considerably.

 

Tablet sales will soon overtake PC sales. It doesn’t matter. Physical boundaries between devices are blurring to the point where a continuum stretches from smartphones through tablets to laptops.

The big disconnect isn’t tablets versus PCs, but mobile versus fixed.  

At Gigaom, Kevin Tofel reports Nearly 1 in 4 computers sold last quarter were tablets. Raw numbers show 28 million tablets sold in the last quarter compared with 88 million PCs.

Tablet sales are up 50 percent when compared to the same quarter last year. PC sales are down 8.6 percent. If those numbers carry on in a straight line – they won’t but bear with me here – then tablet sales will go past PC sales by early 2015.

That’s dramatic considering modern tablet sales began in 2010 with the first iPad.

It gets confusing when you look at the most recent devices to hit the streets. Apple’s iPad mini sits somewhere between a full-sized iPad and a large screen smartphone. As you go from small smartphones through to tablets, there are touchscreen mobile computing devices at every step from three inches to 10 inches.

Microsoft’s Surface may be a touchscreen tablet, but add the optional keyboard case, and physically it is close to an Ultrabook. Samsung sells a tablet that is essentially an Ultrabook with a detectable screen.

The only noticeable discontinuity in the device spectrum is moving from a large screen laptop to an all-in-one desktop. And given the lightness of today’s all-in-one’s even that step is no longer a huge leap.

Phones, tablets, PCs are not three markets. They are one market with a device spectrum.