More Apps from IBM and Apple

Carl Weinschenk
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Fourteen Android Apps to Help You Get the Job Done

Like any huge and important show, it will take a while for the really important deals and introductions made at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona to become apparent. But it clearly dominated the coverage during the week.

Here is the news and analysis worth checking out from this week– both from Barcelona and elsewhere.

Firefox OS Expands

The most recent numbers on mobile device operating systems are pretty simple: Google’s Android is huge. Apple’s iOS is huge. Microsoft is small. A particle accelerator is needed to detect the other players.

But, like Higgs bosons, those miniscule entities exist, including Firefox OS. Mozilla, the company that created Firefox OS, said this week that the platform is expanding. In conjunction with partners KDDI, LG U+, Telefonica and Verizon, the operating system now will be used on 17 smartphones offered in 40 markets worldwide.

The story says that the OS, originally called Boot to Gecko, has been in the market for two years. However, there is no public data on how many phones using it have been sold.

More from IBM and Apple

Last July, IBM and Apple announced a partnership in which Big Blue would create apps for iOS. In December, the first products of that partnership became available.

At MWC, the partners introduced three more apps: Passenger Care is for airline customer service agents; Advisor Alerts aids financial professionals with client-related tasks; Dynamic Buy provides real-time data to retailers on product performance. The rationale for the deal, according to Thomas Claburn’s story, “turns IBM, with its many thousands of salespeople, consultants, and developers, into a seller of Apple devices to businesses.”


Bigger iPad Delayed

Computerworld’s John Ribeiro reports that Apple has delayed production of iPads with 12.9 inch screens. The story says that delays in getting display panels caused Apple to reset the date to September.

Apple is also grappling with a decision on whether to include a USB port that supports the USB 3.0 specification among other design changes.

Ribeiro writes that this is a key introduction for Apple:

The new iPad will likely aim to boost Apple's flagging fortunes in the tablet market. It said it sold 21.4 million iPads in the quarter ended Dec. 27, a year-over-year drop of 18 percent by units and 22 percent by revenue. Its market share dropped to about 28 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 from around 33 percent in the same quarter a year earlier, amid a 3.2 percent global drop in the number of tablets shipped, research firm IDC reported.

Wearable Watch Watch

Wearables clearly have great potential in the enterprise. The first generation of BYOD gear has proven that the line between home and the office (or truck or loading dock) is fuzzy. Wearables will eliminate the distinction still further.

ZDNet’s James Kendrick offered a nice rundown of potential uses for the Apple Watch. He offers six ideas that clearly are just the tip of a very big iceberg. In field work, he mentions coordinating off-site meetings, easier on-the-go answering of texts and emails and extended GPS-type functionality. He also offers real-time project tracking and a heightened ability to “capture ideas.”

More details on the Apple Watch are expected next week. It likely will be introduced in April.

NYC Network for Sale

And finally, comes a story about how things don’t always work out as planned. The big news out of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week was the decision to back municipal networks against legislators intent on making it difficult or impossible to create them. One of the points that opponents of the FCC’s position, and ultimate decision, make is that municipal networks are apt to fail financially and burden the town or city’s finances.

A failure of this type is happening in New York City. The New York Daily News reports that the city is exploring the sale of its public safety wireless network, which cost $500 million to create. It is not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, since the New York network was conceived as a public safety network. Nonetheless, the situation shows the inherent dangers of municipalities going into the telecom business.

The network is operating at about one-quarter capacity, has been relegated to performance of mundane tasks, and costs a tremendous amount to operate. The story suggests that a buyer could migrate the network partially or completely away from public safety functions.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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