Undoubtedly 2012 has been another big year for mobile. From high-profile launches to security scares, from hot tablets entering the enterprise to huge players trailing with their tails between their legs, mobile is certainly the direction in which IT infrastructure is going.
With the demand to be more accessible on the road and the introduction of superfast 4G mobile services, the past 12 months has demonstrated it is easier than ever to use mobile devices to become more productive in the work environment.
We take a look back at the big mobile stories of this year affecting your business.
The year of 2012 has all been about the new Windows operating system, Windows 8 which became available in October for PCs and mobile. However, the long-awaiting mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8, was announced at Mobile World Congress back in February. The industry had to wait a long eight months before Windows 8 would launch into the space dominated predominately by Android and iOS to see if it would shake up the market.
RIM’s dismal results half way through the year were bad enough, but seeing Nokia dive into the depths of despair was not really a massive shock to the industry. Its partnership with Windows Phone 7 didn’t have the turnaround effect the company was hoping for and the company had already been slashing the prices of its flagship Lumia handsets before the results were announced.
In security terms, Google’s open platform Android operating system hasn’t had the best year, with many stories circulating about security attacks on the OS. Over a period of three months, malware and information stealing adware targeting Android was up 483%, even though stricter rules had been introduced by Google over the summer.
This year’s Olympic Games in London truly was a “Mobile Olympics” with more than half of the peak-time traffic to the London 2012 Olympic Games' web servers coming from mobile devices.
London 2012 was the first Olympics where live results for all sports were delivered through the website and mobile apps which encouraged the vast amount of traffic from mobile devices. Users were either running London 2012's own mobile app, or accessing real-time results information using other mobile apps and websites such as the BBC.
A big achievement for the Games was ensuring there was enough mobile coverage for the expected high volume of mobile users. Locog set up a Joint Olympic Operators Group (Joog) with the UK's mobile network providers, to work together to ensure sufficient mobile capacity was available to direct all this mobile traffic.
At the beginning of what was going to be a particularly busy autumn for technology, Computer Weekly took a look at the tablets which were likely make a stir in the industry. The top five tablets we predicted would put even more pressure on Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) in the work place were: the Kindle Fire, Microsoft Surface, Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, Google Nexus 7, and Apple’s latest iPad.
The words “Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD)” were on the mind of every IT department in 2012, companies were worried if they could face the influx of consumer devices being used in the workplace. Companies were worried over compatibility with work networks, while fears over data security made it difficult for decisions over the best course of action to be made.
But what about the devices themselves? Were tablets really being built to be compatible in an office environment or are they purely for surfing the internet on the sofa at home?
At the end of October, EE launched the UK’s first superfast 4G broadband services for consumers and businesses in 11 cities. But what benefits would business have from accessing new found speeds of up to 40Mbps?
Firstly there is the extra productivity on hand for employees. With the increasing number of businesses adopting mobile working policies, there has been a much bigger focus on connectivity on the move.
These tools can cut costs for a company, reducing the need for employees to travel, as well as cutting necessary office space as more people work from home. With a strong 4G network, these solutions can be brought to life in a way that current 3G connections or ad hoc Wi-Fi just cannot serve.
Following the launch of 4G in October, first tests of EE's 4G network showed less than half of Manchester city centre was covered by the high-speed mobile network and 4G connections were inconsistent. Only 42.2% of test locations had 4G access, while outside Manchester city centre there was no coverage at all, in tests conducted in November. The tests also showed that, in locations that had access 4G, the average speed was 17Mbps.
Despite the hype around 4G networks, however, some telecoms providers believe Wi-Fi may deliver a more practical way for mobile devices to deliver high-speed broadband connections.
MasterCard was one provider boosting its offering in the mobile payments sector and other payment companies were also ramping up their mobile offerings in the scramble for this lucrative market.
Mobile phones are expected to play a significant role in the future of cashless payments in remote and on-premise purchases. However, there are also issues around mobile providers not wanting to roll out NFC-enabled devices until there is a market for them. Retailers are understandably reluctant to overhaul payment systems until the consumer demand is there. For example, Apple has yet to release an iPhone with contactless payment.
Government departments were given the go-ahead to use iPhones to send and receive sensitive emails, as part of moves to broaden the number of approved public sector mobile devices beyond the 20,000 BlackBerrys currently in circulation. The was another blow for BlackBerry, which used to be the only device accredited for the use of restricted information by the government’s security arm CESG.