Sramana Mitra: You talked about three specific segments – carriers, enterprise, and automotive. What are some unsolved problems that are on your radar?
Lori Sylvia: One of the big trends we see in mobile is the disruption that Android caused, but also the huge opportunity caused by it. There are hundreds of manufacturers that are getting into the market because they can. They have a cheap operating system to build around. Now you have all of these new manufacturers. We have a list of tablet makers from IDC not long ago, and there were 200 on the list. There are hundreds of these tablet makers alone.
It used to be that it took three to five years to launch a mobile device; now you can do it in three months. You can work with an ODM in Taiwan or China, for example. It is very easy now. The bar to enter the mobile industry is very low. The challenge for those guys is that they are in a commoditized market. If you go on Amazon, you can see dozens of tablets. Companies are starting to think how they differentiate [themselves]. They all kind of look the same, and they have the same hardware features and the same operating system.
What we see thought-leader customers starting to do is to use the mobile device as a platform for services. If customers are going to use a device for 18 to 24 months before they replace it, how can a company monetize that customer relationship? The ones who think like this are going to be the most successful in building long-term customer value. In order to do that, we are proposing that they use software management as a means to deliver those services. But a lot of them are not thinking like this, and they don’t necessarily have those capabilities. The big brands do, and those have been our customers for many years now. All these new guys could be real challengers. They could create a lot of disruption over the next couple of years if they started thinking more about services.
SM: You are saying that all these commoditized mobile manufacturers – both tablet and smartphone – are trying to figure out ways to differentiate, and you see that as an opportunity for service, apps and software driven opportunities on top of perhaps Android. If people can come up with interesting ideas, those commoditized mobile manufacturers would be interested in partnering with them.
SM: Do you have any ideas of what kinds of services would be of interest to them?
LS: It depends on the type of device. You can envision services for your refrigerator that knows your inventory inside, because of bar codes that might be on the food. Those things are starting to happen already. But when you think about tablets, if you are looking at generic media tablets, they are already starting to try to segment themselves for different markets. We have customers who are going after the senior market. They are making tablets that are designed for senior citizens, for example, or for children. They are already starting to think how to differentiate from a hardware perspective as well. From a services perspective, there is a lot of opportunity. Thinking about the end customer, they are thinking about services they could provide to children and their parents, to senior citizens who want to stay connected with their families abroad, etc. All of those [uses] are software based.