Microsoft Office coming to a tablet near you

The recent arrival of MS Office to a non-windows tablet near you has interesting ramifications from a number of different perspectives. Firstly it can be interpreted as a signifier of Microsoft’s strategic intent to focus on software, heavily backed by cloud-based server solutions. Secondly, it consolidates Microsoft’s arrival as OS-agnostic service player, a move announced earlier this year with the release of it’s multi-platform One Note management software. One Note spans multi-devices and multi-platforms including Windows, Mac and Android. What’s more, Apple will be assured of its standard 30% cut for in-app purchases. Previously this had been regarded as a potential sticking point for both sides. However given most business organisations will utilise an enterprise licence route, this 30% commission will effectively be circumvented effectively, heightening the attractiveness of this move for ipad to play a more ubiquitous role in day-to-day business operations. Elsewhere, Microsoft’s cloud based services appear to be in rude health too. ‘Windows Azure Cloud’ is showing rapid growth presently and is also heavily rumoured to rebrand to ‘Microsoft Azure’ just to draw on that corporate brand equity. Microsoft is also rumoured to be on the acquisition path with the likes of Xamarin in its sights. For those who don’t know Xamarin allows developers to build apps for iOS and Android. Microsoft won’t be turning its back on Windows however. Windows is likely to play a supporting role in achieving overall platform strategy rather than effectively acting as a product revenue stream in its own right. Think Google and Android, and Chrome OS which it gives away to drive its own search revenue, or Apple and its free Mac OS upgrades as a means of driving ongoing engagement and you’re likely not to be far off the mark.

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Drone on Facebook

You know the feeling, you’re on a journey and your signal drops, leaving that video or document mid-stream. Well, could that be a thing of the past courtesy of Facebook’s eye in the sky or ‘drones’ to be more process. A short while back we reported in this very blog that Amazon is seriously considering drones as an aerial delivery mechanism, but has to overcome the not insignificant challenge of getting agreement from the US civil aviation authority equivalent. Facebook’s take on drones takes on a different perspective. This time it’s about web connectivity, in particular regarding the provision of internet connectivity to developing countries. Of course, drones aren’t the complete solution. Satellites and lasers form an integral part of Zuckerberg’s masterplan to bring the world ‘closer together’, metaphorically speaking. Facebook have enlisted the help of some of the world’s brightest space and aeronautical minds to staff up its recently unveiled ‘Connectivity lab’. The drones will be powered by solar power, to provide the all important eco-friendly dimension. As a result, Facebook has drafted in key members of Ascenta, a UK based solar tech company who created the early versions of Zephyr, the world’s longest solar power unmanned aircraft. So, that side of proceedings looks to be in good hands. With Google having already had its Google X grouping responsible for special projects (think Google glass and smart contact lenses) this is just going to get a whole lot more interesting. Maybe, just maybe, the sky won’t turn out to be the limit.

Samsung and Carphone warehouse allied

So, what would you do you?

  1. You’re embroiled on a seemingly ongoing battle with your closest rival over patent rights.
  2. Your rival also seemingly has a devoted user base, some of whom verge on fanaticism (and beyond).
  3. Oh, yeah and they also have a physical, branded retail presence in multiple large urban conurbations in the UK and overseas.

Well, when considering the last of these, you match them right? But how? Setting up a retail brand network from the ground up doesn’t come cheap and is fraught with potential traps and challenges. It’s an environment you don’t have any previous operating experience to draw on. The answer? Partner up with an existing retailer with a significant retail network presence. Unsurprisingly, that’s exactly what Samsung has done by forging a close alliance with the major UK phone and digital device retailer, Carphone Warehouse (CW). Samsung and CW are rumoured to have shaken on an agreement which will see 60 stores opened across Europe, selling exclusively Samsung products. Of these a third (20) will be sited in the UK. As the trend for wearable devices looks set to continue the stores will provide a controlled environment within which Samsung will be able to fully promote its new technology offerings. The first of the shops is expected to open with the next 3 months so we shouldn’t have long to wait!

Keeping our digital ‘borders’ safe

Looks like we’ll all be sleeping more soundly in our beds knowing that we have a crack digital security team protecting our digital borders every minute of every day. The recently created CERT-UK or Computer Emergency Response Team will be responsible for co-ordinating the country’s cybersecurity defence activities. Its main point of focus will be on ‘cybersecurity incidents’ of national significance. It will also offer an alerts and advisory service to government, industry and academic institutions on cyber threat matters. It’s reported that over 9 in 10 large UK corporations had a noteworthy ‘breach’ of IT security within the last 12 months. Given the ever increasing pervasiveness and dependency of IT in the workplace, this can only be set to rise in future. The £860m budget allocation to support CERT’s cybersecurity efforts underlines the importance the government is placing on the issue and importance of digital security in providing one of the key infrastructural backbones to drive the UK’s on-going economic recovery. Certain industry sectors, such as power companies and utilities, prime targets in terms of sustaining national infrastructure are likely to be high priority areas of focus for CERT. The unit will also be responsible for co-ordinating international cyber security efforts, working closely alongside other countries which already have a CERT equivalent already in place. No doubt we’ll be hearing more on the swashbuckling work CERT has done to foil major IT security attacks on the UK in the coming months.

The never ending circle which is the Apple & Samsung Saga patent dispute

Well sometimes it does feel like a Tolkien Rings trilogy, if nothing else on the basis it appears that both combatants often seem like they are going around in perpetual circles. ‘Features’ and who came up with them first remains at the heart of the battleground with Apple ‘systematically’ accusing Samsung of replicating five core features, including the likes of slide to unlock functionality. Not surprisingly Samsung refutes that say it was the "pioneer", and that Apple was following suit so to speak. Ultimately this may be the reflection of a more deep-seated squabble Apple has overall with Google, whose software drives the OS system used by Android, of course. With Apple suing the South Korean firm up to $2bn (£1.2bn) and wanting Samsung to be forced to pay a $40 (£24) royalty on every device it deems to be copying its software the question has to be ‘Who ultimately is the winner?’ Well, if Apple prevails the bill for Samsung is likely to fall out around $2 billion. If Apple loses, it stands to pay $6 billion. But, who will ultimately foot the bill? Will they be prepared to take the hit on the bottom line in the form of lower net operating profit or will we as consumers (assuming we’re an Android or Apple user). Moreover, mobile innovation activity could also be adversely affected. Let’s hope it comes to an end at some point soon, but somehow based on past form this has to be assigned to the realms of wishful thinking, at least for now.