Insights - How iTunes Could Disrupt Mobile Device Management.

How iTunes Could Disrupt Mobile Device Management.

by Dr. Thomas Papanikolaou on December 15, 2014

Realistic fiction scenarios is a method we use in strategy development to inspire new thinking. The approach is fairly simple and thus highly effective: based on technologically and practically feasible assumptions, we employ fictional scenarios to synthesize future use cases. These use cases are then used to highlight and motivate what a business need to do in a specific version of the future to retain market control and/or become more competitive.

Here is one example:

Tim opened iTunes on his Macbook, clicked on "Account" and pressed the "Connect" button. It was Tim's first day at work, and he was eager to get going. He entered his employer's name, followed by the unique personal code Human Resources had given him. His iPhone vibrated, requesting him to authenticate with his fingerprint, which he did. Tim thought iTunes for Enterprise was awesome since the first time he used it. It would now only take a few seconds, and iTunes would make sure his mobile number would be ported to his employer's mobile network provider (they paid the bill!), his SIM populated with his employer's enterprise CRM and WiFi settings, and his phone, iPad and Macbook would get the latest enterprise apps from his employer's secure app-store. Moments later, an iMessage arrived to confirm all went well. Being a senior manager, he was informed he could use Apple Pay to pay for work expenses from his assigned OPEX, and those expenses would be automatically managed. He sent the first email from his new account to his boss saying he was ready to go. He had to smile.

Step by step, Apple had removed all complexity associated with enterprise IT and communications and it seemed no one, of those who should have, noticed the potential impact until it was too late. Surely, the first Apple attempts were clunky: iMessage was initially not able to deliver the cross-device experience it was supposed to - Tim even stopped using it for a while. Apple fixed it though, and went a step further, by syncing SMS and iMessages and allowing conversations to continue across devices. Facetime, Apple's first attempt to use WiFi for a compelling video calling experience, did much better and delivered where network providers had failed. Around 2015, with WiFi Calling and the Continuity feature, Apple then delivered seamless handover of communications across networks and devices.

It was this simplified communications experience that Tim cherished - he paid a lot to own Apple products and felt rewarded for his loyalty when they made his life easier. The stroke of a genius, or so Tim thought, was the introduction of the Apple SIM, which made it possible to switch network providers in the same way the first iPhones used to be activated in iTunes: connect the phone, activate your favorite network operator, done. While Blackberry tried to offer multiple identities on the same SIM by introducing additional network technology and complexity, Apple promoted a single, embedded SIM with downloadable network profiles that could be rapidly switched e.g. to get local rates when traveling to a foreign country. By 2020 the Software-SIM era was a reality and Tim loved listening to Apple's new Chief Designer explaining how Apple pushed the industry towards a software SIM because "fiddling with small pieces of plastic was not acceptable user experience" and arguing that the space saving within Apple devices was "remarkable" and now used in a "so much more productive way". Listening to her speaking reminded everyone of Sir Johnathan Ive, who had left Apple for NASA to design the first spaceship that would bring humans to Mars.

With all that in place, and with hindsight, iTunes was destined to become for enterprise what it already was for the media industry. Yet again, Apple could announce "One more thing" which in that instance meant the redefinition of the Bring-Your-Own-Device experience: iTunes for Enterprise. While up to that point enterprises could create their own custom iOS apps according to their specific needs, they needed third-party Mobile Device Management solutions to distribute and manage them. Sure, the Apple alliance with IBM did help, but with iTunes for Enterprise, Apple allowed companies to connect their secure iOS app stores to Apple's own infrastructure, and use iTunes as a familiar self-provisioning tool for their employees. Like Tim, any employee could now "Connect" their devices to their employers network at the press of a single button.

The iTunes for Enterprise announcement sent shares of Mobile Device Management solutions providers to a free fall, and left network operators wondering how to differentiate their enterprise offerings. It seemed Apple had decided to unify the experience of consumers and enterprise users. After all, they were all Apple customers, and Apple wanted to make their lives easier.

To be continued ...


For the avoidance of doubt, this is a fictitious story. All characters in this work, companies mentioned, events described and/or statements cited are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, companies, recent or past, is purely coincidental. Neos Chronos is not affiliated with and has no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. All names and trademarks mentioned therein are the property of their respective owners. Please observe the Neos Chronos Terms of Use.

  1. Apple: Apple SIM, Apple Pay, iMessage, Facetime, Continuity, Apple and IBM Alliance, IT Management for iOS
  2. GSMA: Embedded SIM
  3. NASA: NASA's journey to Mars
  4. Wikipedia: Mobile Number Portability, Mobile Device Management


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