2012 Wrap up
It’s been an exciting year of changes and innovations in End User Computing land. In the industry at large, we saw the continued, inescapable march of BYOD and end user choice, featuring Apple iPad domination of the tablet landscape, Macs in the enterprise and a duopoly of Android and iPhone in the smartphone world. We also saw the arrival of Windows 8 and while not emerging to widespread acclaim or the Microsoft domination of yesteryear, it was not a complete dud either. Microsoft has made a big and aggressive bet with its new, hybrid touch/keyboard user interface and application compatibility/availability ecosystem challenges and time will tell how it plays out in both the corporate and consumer worlds.
From the VMware perspective, 2012 brought View 5.1 building on the significant momentum of View 5.0 and the groundbreaking acquisition of Wanova and subsequent launch of VMware Mirage. The combination of VMware View and Mirage is an industry first pairing that dramatically redefined the VDI market – no longer is the market restricted to virtual desktops, but central image management operational benefits can be extended to more types of client end point systems – including physical, virtual, tethered desktops and roaming laptops (Mac and PC). And at VMworld 2012, we showed the progress that we’ve made with a technical preview of the industry’s first integrated platform for the mobile, multi-device workspace. Now in beta release, we call this technology the Horizon Suite and we demonstrated self-service access to your apps and data across your devices including mobile-centric containers for management and security.
But enough about 2012, time to take a peek into the future…
I expect we will continue to see a duopoly of iPhone and Android devices, dark horse being Windows 8 Phone. Blackberry 10 looks interesting, but likely too little, too late. It’s a pretty safe bet that some combination of Google and Samsung will solidify their dominance in the Android ecosystem. And while Apple will continue to have more elegant, integrated and desirable devices, I predict that Google will widen the gap with their backend cloud services. The first significant and clear service-based skirmish was the widely reported iOS Map fiasco of 2012. What got lost in the noise around the Apple decision to remove Google in favor of its own immature offering was that they apparently felt forced there due to the lack of voice directions in the Google Map app version for iOS. I predict Apple will use its sizeable war chest to acquire significant players who can drive delivery of valuable cloud based services for their iPad/iPhone franchises.
The diagram below pre-dates Apple’s iCloud and Google Play, but is a pretty good illustration of the landscape anyway…
While I’m discussing the duopoly, both Apple and Google (and Microsoft) are playing the game of integrated cloud service silos across their devices. I predict that 2013 will see a revolt against these locked in silos, raising pressure on these incumbents. More open cloud services will become desirable and provide opportunities for players with truly multi-device technologies that work across the eco-systems.
An EUC predictions blog for 2013 can’t get away without a prediction about Windows 8. My belief is that Windows 8 will have modest adoption with consumers and very light adoption with enterprises. For enterprises, the new hybrid user interface makes the devices too different a user experience and incompatible with existing apps, but also not as intuitive as a pure touch tablet. I predict there will be little uptick in the enterprise and Windows 7 and XP will continue to be the standard for traditional enterprise PCs. April 8, 2014 is the current official sunset of support for Windows XP. Some will ignore it and use it till it dies; others will do a crash migration to Windows 7 or non-windows platforms as the date gets closer. Regardless, Windows role in the enterprise will also continue to gradually recede in importance, becoming more invisible and more of a runtime environment for legacy applications. For consumers, I also predict that Windows 8 will also have only modest success. For tablets, not enough of a tablet experience moving forward and not enough applications for it as well as the flip side of not enough compatibility for traditional PC uses. Of course, it will be the default with new consumer PCs and make the bulk of its progress there.
Back to the theme of mobile devices and their dependency on cloud based, backend services, I predict that in 2013 we will see mainstream recognition that computing is no longer primarily done on one or more client systems like a PC, but moves further towards a world where the bulk of important computational processing is performed in the cloud and that your end point devices, especially smart phone and tablets broaden from the user interface role and take on more of the flavor of “remote controls” for your cloud services. I expect smartphones and tablets to morph into remote controls for additional services. We’re already seeing wallet apps for credit card payments, airline boarding passes, coupons, etc. Why carry a separate badge or smartcard when everyone has a smartphone and the phone is fully capable of running sophisticated authentication applications that can interface with backend services and securely identify the user? Biometric authentication via smartphone camera or touch anyone? And the user interface will improve and evolve as well. Speech as input is beginning to enter the mainstream as a user interface exemplified by Siri and Google and the advanced technologies and companies behind those technologies.
Which brings me to the so called “Internet of things”; why stop at being a remote control for virtual computer services? In 2013, we will see more significant smartphone and txt message driven cloud services that allow us to control our physical devices and environments. I think we will move from remotely controlling your DVR, thermostat, baby monitors and video camera surveillance to more advanced uses and communication between the devices themselves, all controllable via your phone or tablet. One can find on the market today thermostats that allow full climate control and electric monitoring from the iPhone/Androids and performs operational analysis in the Cloud on your energy consumption patterns; baby monitors that are controlled by smartphones now with video and alerting; Sleep monitoring, Pedometers and more. The common thread here is intelligent aggregation of diverse information sources from the physical world filtered and processed in the cloud and delivered in an intuitive and useful manner through a smartphone app. Where will this all lead? How about a remote starter for your car and its heating system? Or keyless entry? From your smartphone. Or a Scheduler for controlling household devices such as lights? One of my colleagues told me he is looking at a new house that came pre-equipped with an iPad app to control many features. When you start thinking about historically dumb devices with analog controls having digital interfaces, coupled with ubiquitous communication and simple control messages via web or SMS, it’s not a big step to think about distributed control and where that can lead convenience wise. And the input can actually be voice! “Siri, dim the lights!” In 2013, these scenarios will move further from novelty to mainstream desirable reality.
Our relationship with privacy will also continue to evolve in unexpected ways. Of course, expect more malware exploits and debacles like the Petraeus scandal as people fumble over themselves learning to retain privacy in the brave new world. We'll be looking for more efficient ways to interact with that Internet of things such as Siri and that ease of access will force the need for securing not only IT resources but also our personal info-sphere better than we've done in the past. An illustrative example from another colleague – while waiting for their spouses to return from “shopping”, his son in law used a Siri 'Find my Wife' request triggering the Apple Find My Friends app with GPS to identify that their wives were actually spending time at a local spa. You’ve been warned!
For some of my predictions, 2013 may be too early. But I stand by these as where I think the world is headed over the next year or so. A more interconnected world, dominated by cloud computing and a connected web of physical devices, all controlled by our smartphones and tablets.