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Smartphone and ERP Market Trends and Analysis

Lenovo, a PC maker for the Chinese market, is buying back their mobile handset unit, for twice the price that they sold it for in 2008. Why? Lenovo said the acquisition “signals that Lenovo is gearing up its efforts in the burgeoning mobile Internet market.” Lenovo Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing said they view the mobile Internet as a key growth area…”

Wall Street Journal reported in Monday’s Edition (November 30, 2009) that Dell, Acer, Asustek Computer and HP have all launched handsets to diversify their product offerings.

What is my analysis? Lenovo sold their handset unit in 2008. Less than 2 years later they buy it back as they believe it represents a key growth area, and they buy it back just as the other large PC makers are launching their own new mobile handsets (smartphones) products to attack the growing mobile Internet market. This signals that PC manufacturers see smartphones as both a competitor to PCs and the future of mobile computing.

I believe that Internet enabled smartphones will be competing more and more with PC sales. As Google, Microsoft, and other companies make more applications available on the Internet in hosted and SaaS (software as a service) models, there is less need to have a desktop PC loaded with large applications waiting for you back at the office. The notion that all things should be mobile has passed the tipping point.

This is also a wake up call for software companies. Smartphone access to back-office applications goes from being a novelty to a requirement. This means software vendors must quickly enable hosted and SaaS versions of their applications to be accessible via the Internet. It means there MUST be mobile application support for smartphones.

As I noted in an article yesterday, even mobile projectors can now be part of your smartphone. As these improve, they even may remove another reason to carry a laptop. Mobile broadband, high powered smartphones, social networking and SaaS models for software all work together to make the smartphone the preferred computing device of the present and the future.

What this trend should tell mobile software application developers is prepare yourself. There is going to be a huge and rapid transition from early adopters of mobile applications, to mainstream users. Everyone is going to want their ERPs and business applications available on smartphones and someone needs to be developing them.

MEAPs (mobile enterprise application platforms) that can mobilize many different back-office applications will benefit if they can develop a successful business model that is appealing to software developers and their customers.

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