Mobile Industry on the Move January 26

— January 26, 2014

The big news this week was the VMWare acquisition of AirWatch. And watch for more plays in this space.

"The MDM sector remains poised for consolidation,” said Mary Jo Zandy, Managing Director, Berkery Noyes, via email. “More so than any potential mega deals, most of the activity will involve the acquisitions of small and mid-sized companies that fill existing voids in the marketplace. We’re already seeing this occur as larger enterprises seek technology to address gaps in their cross-platform mobility. This trend should continue as transitioning to the cloud becomes even more commonplace.

Going forward, will it be the standard for non-traditional buyers to expand into mobile, as a natural arm of doing business? Yes.

“Having a comprehensive set of mobile offerings can be an important means of staying competitive, especially since there’s so much innovation occurring. It’s certainly possible that non-traditional buyers who see their competitors making acquisitions may find it advantageous to consider a similar approach themselves,” Zandy said.

And, just throwing it out there, where is Yahoo projected to be by the end of 2014?
"If 2013 is any indication, there is reason to believe that Yahoo will remain an active acquirer over the next year," Zandy said. "Since coming on board, Marissa Mayer has shown that M&A will be an important part of Yahoo’s mobile growth strategy. Expect many of these transactions to have a significant talent acquisition component, given that acqui-hires seem to be a frequent occurrence these days."

In addition to the VMWare move, and some earnings reports, there were other things going on in the industry. Here are a few partnerships from the past week.

Lenovo/IBM
Lenovo and IBM have entered into a definitive agreement in which Lenovo plans to acquire IBM’s x86 server business. The purchase price is approximately US$2.3 billion, approximately two billion of which will be paid in cash and the balance in Lenovo stock.

The agreement builds upon a longstanding collaboration that began in 2005 when Lenovo acquired IBM’s PC business, which included the ThinkPad line of PCs. In the period since, the companies have continued to collaborate in many areas.

IBM will continue to develop and evolve its Windows and Linux software portfolio for the x86 platform. Following the closing of the transaction, Lenovo will assume related customer service and maintenance operations. IBM will continue to provide maintenance delivery on Lenovo’s behalf for an extended period of time, so customers should see little change in their maintenance support.

This agreement follows recent announcements by IBM that it will invest more than $1 billion in the new IBM Watson Group, and $1.2 billion to expand its global cloud computing footprint to 40 data centers worldwide in 15 countries across five continents.

“This divestiture allows IBM to focus on system and software innovations that bring new kinds of value to strategic areas of our business, such as cognitive computing, Big Data and cloud,” said Steve Mills, Senior Vice President and Group Executive, IBM Software and Systems.

DataXoom/Sprint
DataXoom Corp. has signed an agreement with Sprint to provide DataXoom with wholesale mobile data services.  DataXoom provides cost-effective, no-contract mobile data services to mid- to large-sized enterprise customers. Sprint delivers 4G LTE mobile data capability at 2.5 GHz, offering 50-60 Megabits per second (Mbps) peak speeds today, with increasing speed potential over time.

 DataXoom provides cellular data network connectivity for the tablets, mobile hotspots, and specialty devices used by an enterprise’s mobile workforce. The company’s approach includes no contracts or termination penalties and it charges only for actual usage.  The management platform allows an administrator to manage users through a single web interface across multiple underlying wireless networks.  It provides user authentication, content control, data limits, and alerts. 

 “DataXoom’s exclusive focus on mobile data for enterprises is a great fit with Sprint’s wholesale approach, where we enable our customers to deliver value to their target customer segment,” said Karen Freitag, VP, Global Sales at Sprint. “With Sprint 4G LTE, DataXoom is empowered to deliver superior services to its customers.” DataXoom has launched its service with select customers and will be available nationwide in February 2014.
 
Ruckus Wireless
Ruckus Wireless, Inc. has been selected to supply high-speed Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi products to Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corporation, U.S.A., a subsidiary of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. The new system was installed to support Kawasaki Motors’ vast warehousing, production, quality control and parts management operations.

With more than 2,600 employees working across over two million square feet of manufacturing, back office and warehousing space, Kawasaki Motors needed to implement a reliable Wi-Fi infrastructure to support a variety of applications, from quality control and inventory management systems to inter-staff voice communication and digital signage.

These applications utilize hundreds of handheld mobile devices such as Siemens WL2 VoIP Wi-Fi phones for inter-staff voice communications to Apple iPads, and then to Datalogic Elf and Symbol barcode scanners placed on forklifts, so staff can constantly feed inventory data into its LANSA enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Kawasaki Motors have also designed and developed custom mobile iPad applications that line staff use with an internally developed real-time assembly line inventory (eKanban) system that relies heavily on reliable wireless connectivity. This enables them to maintain accurate inventory levels at all times. Kawasaki also plans to use Wi-Fi for its Andon system, where assembly line workers have the ability to stop the production line if an issue is identified. It has also developed custom iPad mobile applications for its inspection recording system used by quality service engineers, allowing them to release finished products or hold and inspect units.

“We view Wi-Fi as a strategic tool for optimizing operations as part of our continuous improvement practice, because we use it daily to literally run our plant manufacturing operations,” said Paul Kramer, IT manager for Kawasaki Motors.  

With Communication Services, Inc., Kawasaki’s systems integration partner, Kramer deployed nearly 100 three-stream, dual-band 802.11n Ruckus ZoneFlex 7982 indoor access points, each of which integrate a dual-polarized, patented, adaptive antenna array and custom software such as ChannelFly™ – all of which combine to automatically and continuously select the best signal path and best RF channel for each device.

With the new system in place, Kawasaki now experiences better quality VoIP communications and up to a five times increase in the amount of products they can scan through its system, according to Kramer.

Related Article
3 Drivers of the AirWatch Deal

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