The Android OS – the Ultimate in Device Fragmentation?

14 03 2013

animoca-androidIn an article posted in 2012 in TechTarget, Kim-Mai Cutler had the chance to interview “Animoca, a Hong Kong mobile app developer that has seen more than 70 million downloads, says it does quality assurance testing with about 400 Android devices. Again, that’s testing with four hundred different phones and tablets for every app they ship!”

She continues .. “The photo above is just a sampling of Animoca’s fleet of Android test units. Yat Siu, who is CEO of Animoca’s parent company Outblaze, snapped and posted it from Outblaze’s headquarters today. In total, Siu says their studio has detected about 600 unique Android devices on their network.

“We haven’t managed to track down all of those devices because, in large part, they are no longer available for sale,” he says. Sad cakes!

On top of that, Siu said that the number of handsets from the lower-end Asian manufacturers is also growing rapidly. These are the phone makers that Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop was probably talking about in his famous “burning platform” memo when he said that are Chinese OEMs were “cranking out a device much faster than, as one Nokia employee said only partially in jest, ‘the time that it takes us to polish a PowerPoint presentation.’” If you take those out, the actual number of devices you need to test for is much lower.

But if you want to break into Asian markets, these phones matter and make it especially challenging for Android developers to ensure their apps work on every single Android device. Android fragmentation is a huge issue because developers have to check their work on dozens of devices. Animoca happens to be backed by Intel Capital and IDG-Accel, so it has the resources to buy all of these devices for testing and pay employees to use them.

But imagine the long-tail of developers! Imagine the people who make the roughly 500,000 apps in the Google Play store. Total nightmare.

It puts a real dent in Eric Schmidt’s prediction from six months ago that developers might start going Android first within six months. His deadline is up now and there aren’t signs of this happening. Appcelerator did a survey of 2,100 of its developer clients in March and found that, if anything, interest in Android development is stagnating.

Siu isn’t fazed though. He’s told me in the past that thorough QA testing makes Animoca’s apps retain users better because so many other Android developers do a bad job at it. Unlike iOS users who throw up their hands in frustration, write bad reviews and just leave, Android users tend to be delighted when they find apps that work even if they have a glitch or two.

He adds, “We like fragmentation as users prefer choice. We are not big believers that one size fits all.”

At Keynote, we see this all the time. Our customers tell us of the pain of having to manage libraries of real devices and the vast variety of OS versions even just within Android, let alone iOS, BlackBerry, or Win 8.  Developers who started with one or two devices a few years ago are now up to 20-30 today as seen in this image from another developer – Pocket Gems. They had two of the 10 top-grossing games on iOS last year, according to Apple’s iTunes Rewind.


And there is no end in sight now with the release of new form factors from Apple such as the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini. One of our customers – Microsoft’s Windows Live team was able to replace their entire cabinet of devices with the DeviceAnywhere platform. No longer having to check out devices to team members or update devices with different OS’, or manage/maintain separate plans for each device locking them into a 2-year agreement with the carrier. Mark Boyce of Microsoft’s Windows Live deployment team said at the time of the release “Keynote’s DeviceAnywhere solution has saved our department a lot of time and headaches by eliminating most of the tedious, manual tasks associated with our in-house mobile testing process. We no longer have to chase down lost devices and SIMs, dig through boxes of chargers, or even track multiple phone bills and expense reports.”

To learn how you too can benefit from access to real devices from anywhere in the world, eliminating the need to maintain your own library or even having to ship devices around the globe, check out Keynote’s DeviceAnywhere platform and we’ll even get you started with THREE free hours, TODAY!

To read more of Ms. Cutler’s article click here.


The BYOD Challenge and BlackBerry’s Answer

7 03 2013

risky-byodBYOD has presented many challenges specifically to the enterprise. Enterprises have a new challenge of managing employee devices that contain external (personal) applications combined with an organizations internal system. Many times an internal CRM app can cause conflicts with outside apps, causing them to not function properly or making them susceptible to security breaches. This puts pressure on IT teams to constantly troubleshoot new issues so that workers can maintain efficiency. While it remains risky (see infograph), employees continue to push the boundaries forcing their organizations to be more efficient and in return making them more effective employees.

Recently, BlackBerry launched their newest device, the Z10 which includes the ability to run enterprise apps and personal apps on the same device while protecting the enterprise’ network at the same time.  Called, “BlackBerry Balance” – it is a feature aimed at corporate users who want to keep their work and personal lives separate – on their phone. It allows users to store apps and data on two distinct profiles – Work and Personal. Users can easily switch between the two profiles and users who bring their device to office can easily format the Work profile when they switch jobs without having to change any setting in the personal one. This is an interesting attempt at trying to address this issue as BlackBerry fights to maintain relevance in the enterprise marketplace.

In addition, the introduction of BYOD has increased existing pain points for internal IT teams and increased the need for solid mobile app performance. IT teams are challenged with meeting the needs of the enterprise and integrating internal systems with personal devices that could have conflicting programming. The ability to testing enterprise applications on real devices to determine bugs and conflicts becomes critical.

2013 Mobile Prediction – BYOA (Bring Your Own App) Becomes a Major Headache for IT Departments

8 01 2013


In 2012, we saw an exponential increase in employees at companies bringing their personal mobile devices – including smartphones and tablets – to the workplace and using them to conduct business, whether by checking work email or accessing company data. This made it difficult for companies to manage company data, most of which is private information, and keep it from getting into the hands of people who shouldn’t have access to it. This trend deemed BYOD or bring-your-own-device, has luckily been addressed and most companies have found ways to manage these personal devices used for business. Now, employees are beginning to download apps onto their devices to help increase their efficiency and productivity at work. This includes apps which lets them access work data remotely or apps that connects them with customers and co-workers. The problem with this is that, after companies have gotten over the BYOD challenge, now they have to worry about the BYOA or bring-your-own-apps hump. In 2013, I predict that companies will rush to find a way to continue managing personal devices used for business, as well as going one step further to manage the apps on employees’ devices.

The Rise in Demand for Enterprise Mobility (and IT is Listening)

12 03 2012

It is estimated that by 2017, the global enterprise mobility market will be nearly $174 billion, according to a report by Global Industry Analysts. New, more powerful mobile devices – namely tablets and smartphones – and mobile business apps on them are, and will continue to, help drive this trend.

According to Gartner’s January 2011 worldwide IT spending forecast, global IT spending in enterprise software and apps has grown to $253 billion in Q4 2010 from $228 billion in Q4 2008, with a low point of $224 billion in Q4 2009. This represents a 7.5% growth over the 4-year stretch.

This growth is significant for a number of reasons.  For one, the business cycle is essentially 24/7 and as such, it is important that remote and field employees have access to corporate data and intranets on a real-time basis.

Second, business transactions can be handled on the spot, and eliminate much of the processing once required.

Third, more spending in IT, like such areas as enterprise software and mobile business apps, means companies realize they need to do a more thorough job of incorporating existing or new enterprise mobility infrastructure in their daily routines.

In short, advancements in, and larger budgets for, enterprise mobility lead to increased efficiency and improved performance. There is a reason the acronym BYOD (bring your own device) was coined in 2011.  Its underlying factors all lie in the numbers behind IT spending growth.

But the question still remains – now that companies have new mobile apps and mobility policies and infrastructures in place, how do CIOs and IT managers make sure their systems are uniform across multiple devices and platforms?

Along with the rise of enterprise mobility, companies are going to need ways to ensure their mobility growth efforts are efficient and effective.  This is where mobile testing comes in to play.  The demand for real-time mobile app and OS quality assurance is going to rise along with the BYOD and enterprise mobility trends.

We will see IT spending continue to rise and larger budgets dedicated to mobility initiatives as enterprise organizations realize they have to acknowledge and manage the rise in demand for enterprise mobility. As such, the demand for cross-platform testing of mobile software and apps will rise along with it to overcome the fragmented reality of today’s mobile ecosystem.  2012 will continue to be the year of BYOD and along with it, BYOA (bring your own apps), and we look forward to it.

Windows Phone 7: A New Contender?

8 04 2011

Brandon Watson, Microsoft’s developer evangelist, last week caused a stir within the industry when he announced that the Windows Phone 7 toolkit had been downloaded 1.5 million times. He also then went on to state they were adding 1200 developers every week.

We have also observed a slow but steady increasing testing popularity amongst our customers in recent months, with Windows Phone 7 reaching a 1.3% share of total testing time in our latest DeviceAnywhere Metrics report.

Buzz around Windows Phone 7 peaked in February following the announcement of a strategic partnership that would see the OS used in Nokia handsets (due in 2012). But as cited in recent posts the true litmus test for the sustained growth of a platform is appeal to the enterprise market.

The platforms enterprise features were showcased at launch, with Brandon Watson  strong SharePoint and Office integration, remote wiping and support for multiple Exchange Server accounts being just a few of them.

But as we know these aren’t the features that resulted in the growth of Android and iPhone use in enterprise, having to appeal to the consumer is essential. Appealing to the “Bring Your Own Device” enterprise, that many IT departments dread, the finger friendly interface, form factor and hardware specifications has gotten consumer hearts racing.

However, to speed up the adoption of Windows Phone 7 by enterprises, albeit through consumer channels, Microsoft will need to ensure that there are enough phones to attract app developers and boost the revenue that apps can bring in. So far the company has shipped 2 million Windows Phone 7 devices in the last quarter of 2010 compared to 14.1 million Apple iPhones, 33.3 million Android devices and 14.6 million BlackBerry units.

Windows Phone 7 market share is still insignificant compared to its strongest competitors. However, it is a great achievement for the five months in which the platform has been around and we expect to see further growth in its popularity with app developers, both consumer and enterprise alike.

Enterprise Mobility Trends

22 11 2010

There has been a lot of hype surrounding the integration of enterprise mobility into organizations and in particular about how IT decision makers will respond to the challenges arising from the plethora of operating systems, devices and service providers available on the market. As the mobile enterprise opportunity evolves, new players are entering the sector and the diversification of products, applications and services continues to increase.

Although Blackberry OS is still the most widely deployed operating system on the market, its popularity is gradually receding and opening up space for new operating systems  and devices. Evidence for how this is going to change the market is supported by recent research.  According to a Yankee group survey of US IT decision makers only 25% of the organizations are planning to support Blackberry OS in the next two years, while iPhone and Android are favored by respectively 34% and 28% of IT decision makers. This means that Blackberry will soon be overtaken as the most popular OS supported by enterprises.

The statistics clearly show that there is a trend towards diversification of the the number of operating systems and devices supported by the enterprise as there is room for multiple players in this field. Similarly, as device manufacturers and mobile software providers are developing more ‘enterprise friendly’ products, the number of enterprise applications adapted to the mobile platform will increase and there will be further proliferation of new services.

Currently email and access to the corporate database are the most popular applications available through the mobile platform. However, IT decision makers are increasingly looking to add additional capabilities to the mobile platform including unified communications, customer management applications and sales force automation among the most popular ones.

Many players will be involved in making this happen, including device manufacturers, mobile operators, hardware vendors, application developers, mobile software vendors and additional services providers. The role of service providers will be increasingly important in resolving the complexity of the enterprise mobility market and offering flexible support platforms to aid application developers in adapting their applications to the multiple Oss and devices available on the market.