2012: The year in devices and endpoint

By Peter Gothard
18 Dec 2012 View Comments
A graphic depicting mobile phone software

This has been a busy year in the world of devices. Barely a week has gone by without a mobile or tablet technology story being at the top of the Computing news agenda, be it the latest patent wrangle between Apple and any number of mobile handset manufacturers (usually Samsung), or another paradigm shift in the use of the technology in the enterprise.

The past 12 months certainly saw the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon gather momentum, to the obvious discomfort of some IT leaders. As more organisations followed the lead of BYOD trailblazers such as Norfolk County Council and Scottish law firm Maclay Murray and Spens, voices of those urging caution grew louder. The MoD's deputy head of service operations, Simon Wise, told Computing that he felt there was a "danger of policy following the technology" in BYOD.

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As the months passed, IT leaders at Visa Europe, Sheffield Council, the BBC and Westminster Council, joined this chorus of concern.

In essence, 2012 has been the year when the endpoint began to seriously shift, due largely to popular demand from users, towards a more tablet-oriented future.

But this shift is bringing new challenges, as highlighted by customers of McAfee Security and  Veracode's CIO, who see a pressing need for a new class of mobile device management (MDM) solution that can secure enterprise data that resides in a highly mobile and consumerised environment.

It is understandable for firms that deal on a daily basis with highly sensitive user data to be wary of BYOD and mobile computing in general, but for a growing number of organisations, the mobile innovations cannot come fast enough. Bolton's Essa Academy, for example, has an iOS device for each of its 900 students, Apple TV instead of chalkboards, and largely no use whatsoever for textbooks or traditional reading and writing equipment of any kind.

What's happening within the academy's state-of-the-art campus shows how children's enthusiasm for technology – particularly tablets – can be harnessed to deliver a more effective learning experience.

The consumerisation of technology really began to take hold in 2012. Microsoft's moderately successful launch of its first tablet in the form of the Windows Surface is perhaps the most striking indicator of this step-change; the great software vendor of the past 30 years having to concede that an operating system alone can't be guaranteed to hit all the right notes. Only by teaming it with a sleek and portable mobile device can Microsoft guarantee the maximum coverage for Windows 8 and its pared-down offshoots.

It's a strategy that RIM desperately needs to emulate. Reporting second-quarter losses of $235m in September, compared to a $419m profit in 2011, the Canadian firm is in trouble, and obviously needs its new BlackBerry 10 devices to hit the ground running when they finally arrive in the new year.

Since Surface's launch in September, Microsoft's OEM partners have been cautiously crawling out of the woodwork with their own tablets.

While the likes of Dell, HP and Asus are innovating - sometimes wildly - on the joint tablet and desktop stylings of Windows 8, Computing has been told in no uncertain terms that few are willing to engage with Microsoft's cut-down Windows RT system.

Nokia, meanwhile, looks to be leading the pack in the Windows 8 smartphone market, with its Lumia series showcasing the Windows 8 phone ecosystem beautifully.

2012 has set in motion a series of enterprise mobility wheels that will really get into spin in 2013, and Computing will be there to keep you abreast of how this will affect the way you conduct your business.

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