Before we get ready here in the United States to celebrate the birth of our nation by enjoying a nice long weekend, I wanted to pen one quick missive based upon an article I just stumbled upon. It was an interview with Richard Kerris, HP’s vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations, as he talked about the newly released TouchPad – HP’s first webOS-based foray into the already crowded tablet market.
In a related article, CrunchGear’s John Biggs summarizes the original interview by saying:
…[H]e basically says that WebOS is HP’s enterprise strategy, not their consumer play.
This is in reference to Kerris’ comment where he says:
We think there’s a better opportunity for us to go after the enterprise space and those consumers that use PCs.
Hmm. That was a fascinating comment in my mind. First of all, I can’t help but point out the irony of this comment given how this is basically a 180 degree shift in strategy from where Palm (before it was acquired) was heading with the webOS platform. A few months before Palm was acquired, they had all but abandoned their enterprise aspirations and chose instead to focus on a consumer-centric strategy.
When Palm chose to focus on a consumer centric strategy, I was very disappointed that they were all but abandoning the workplace. In hindsight, I see I was wrong in that view. However, today, I feel as if the enterprise focused strategy is another error. You are allowed to say “Hunh??? Philippe – what are you talking about? How can you possibly say that? You’re always preaching about having an enterprise mobility strategy.”
Before you think I have lost ALL my marbles, hear me out. I recall when I was constantly complaining that Apple’s iOS was not enterprise ready….citing how its support of Exchange ActiveSync was at the time so poor. Obviously today, iOS has decent ActiveSync support and its own very capable set of native mobile device management APIs that third party enterprise mobility management vendors can leverage. Did Apple’s strategy change? Absolutely not.
Apple’s strategy has always and (most likely) always will be USER centric. However, it has provided over time an increasing number of features that match the REQUIREMENTS that the enterprise will have….including those device management APIs and device encryption. Encryption is NOT a strategy, but instead a feature – a checkbox if you will – on what the IT department will look at when considering the merits of any platform or product.
See the distinction I am trying to make?
To the best of my knowledge, HP has not (yet) articulated what those additional enterprise-friendly features will be in webOS, but that’s not the main point. Let’s not forget that the people in the IT department are also users who increasingly value the ease of a great user experience. Besides, the tsunami better known as Bring Your Own Device showed us all how little PEOPLE care about enterprise features. This isn’t just a device or mobile operating system matter. It spreads out to mobile applications as well.
Developers are increasingly mindful of the user experiences of their mobile enterprise applications – we can thank Apple for that I guess. The expense reporting app needs to be user friendly, or people just won’t use it! Of course it needs to tie in to back end systems, but again, that is a requirement!
See where I am going now with all this?
This missive isn’t necessarily to call out HP and the webOS team, but instead a reminder to all parties to not confuse features and checkbox functionality with a broader, overarching strategy (such as increasing the developer ecosystem or attracting new customers or increasing business velocity).