As we've been reporting, IoT and SmarTech have absolutely been the dominant themes at COMPUTEX Taipei 2014. The midweek keynote was by Nick Parker, Microsoft corporate vice president, who presented the strategic vision from Microsoft looking at the growth opportunities from IoT particularly related to new hardware, pricing, and new regional markets. Here again we heard the importance placed on the new supply chain connections and support between partners to marry hardware and software to provide the seamless user experiences expected from IoT and ubiquitous computing.
Opening OS for growth
Of course when we think about Microsoft, we think first of the software dominance and the deep relationship with the PC sector. However, as PCs continue to wane in the face of the now mature smart mobile device marketplace, what is Microsoft's future and how can it support IoT? To be sure, Microsoft's Parker had over 40 devices on stage with him during the keynote, demonstrating the extent of Microsoft's partnering ecosystem. Notably, the prominence of 2-in-1, or hybrid, devices was central to the discussion, as we heard echoes from the Intel keynote about the growth possibilities now truly possible for the tablet-PC hybrid. The possibilities made real because of components, device, and software integration at price-points that are really enticing to today's consumer and enterprise markets.
Microsoft's strategic focus on mobility, like Intel's, is rooted in the growth vision for IoT, and with both of these major corporations collaborating with supply chain partners, the likelihood is very strong for real, break-through devices to hit the market this year and going forward. More importantly, the focus of both Microsoft and Intel on monitoring costs for software and components is also critical not only for extending the mature economic markets, but especially for presenting appealing IoT solutions that are affordable to the emerging market consumers and enterprises.
Supporting the mobile-first cloud-first world
Microsoft's message certainly focused around the importance of the software to help unite the new devices, connectivity, functionality, and ubiquity of computing for the seamless, personalized, cloud-based mobile world we are now part of. Important in the vision is the inclusion of data management and cloud connectivity to provide that seamlessness for the user. Also important is the human-machine proliferation, the increased adoption of devices that we not just carry but wear and that do and will seamlessly help us through our daily life – but that ubiquity, Parker noted, depends on affordability so that people will adopt and enter into that IoT relationship.
The message from Tony Prophet, Microsoft corporate vice president of Windows marketing, was important as well:
From component technologies to systems design to services and solutions, vertical services and solutions for our most trusted partners, our ecosystem is open. […] Gone are the days of a three-year release cycle. We've taken your feedback and we're moving to a system of regular updates, not just fixes but regular updates […].consumer apps are complemented by an extraordinary portfolio of business and productivity apps, including GoToMeeting, Office and Lync.
[…] Just last week, we announced that Salesforce1 will be coming to Windows and Windows Phone in the fall of 2014.
Now, so in today's world all of us, each of us interact with a multitude of devices every day, from the smart phone to the phablet to the tablet to the two-in-one to the notebook, all-in-one, desktop, et cetera.
The move by Microsoft to promote and support seamless interaction for the user experience is strategic and parallels the wider marketplace move to support and extend IoT as we know it today. But to help quicken the pace of IoT adoption, pricing and targeted solutions (device, OS, apps and software in general) for low-cost devices that deliver full seamless experiences must be part of the market approach – to this end, Microsoft, along with its device and supply chain partners both global and regional, like Toshiba, HP, Haier, VIDO, and Luckystar, respectively, are promoting options for Windows phones as well as phablet and hybrid devices that will retail at affordable price points.
With the IoT world expanding and opening this year, the number of leading companies and their supply chains supporting seamless experiences across many devices and targeted to meet the demand at various price-levels and regional requirements, is truly supporting the growth forecasts we have seen and has fed the buzz here in Taipei that the IoT disruptive wave is upon us and ready to seamless integrate our daily experiences and extend our personal device ecosystems.