Tag Archives: mobile

Peddle Faster to Fly Your Unicorn: Could VSports Cause Unintentional Fitness?

In three decades of video gaming there have been some very odd on-screen instructions. The Grand Theft Auto series introduced a controversial healing mechanic, and in PS3’s 2010 title Heavy Rain players were encouraged to “press x to Jason [sic]”, however being instructed to pedal in order to start your unicorn must now be a close contender. It’s also fair to say that very few eSports or sit-down video games will draw much more than nervous perspiration, or perhaps the dreaded Nintendo Thumb some of us used to suffer when attempting to finish seemingly impossible titles like Battletoads (which if played with two players was actually impossible). The Nintendo Wii was the first mass-market gaming platform to show the potential for video games to help users truly exercise, and the motion controllers and uses beyond sedentary gaming were a major selling-point over seemingly superior competing products. The majority of users eventually grew to see the Wii Fit as a novelty workout video with interaction, and slowly consoles were retired in garages, ignored and eventually abandoned like so many gym memberships. Few of those Wii Fit owners have looked back since.blog1

As the VR industry has grown over the last two years a new form of exercise has emerged – Vsports. In this instance, the user is immersed in a 360 degree 3D world, transforming a session on an exercise machine into a totally different experience. Often complaints of reluctant joggers is that running through the streets of Balham is hardly exciting, and thudding on a treadmill whilst watching Simon Cowell’s latest autotuned starlet in the gym is drastically worse. What about running along the banks of the River Tiber whilst chasing rogue legionnaires, or indeed, flying a pedal-powered unicorn? The latter has been made possible by VirZOOM, a company so sure of its product that they are targeting their marketing directly at lapsed gym bunnies. My own aversion to jogging is the lack of competition and the abstract nature of lonely cardio exercise, however a gameplay element and opponents, both virtual and real, will push me the extra mile. Interestingly, in a 2016 CONTEXT survey of EU consumers, sport was the gaming category which excited them the most for VR, with 1 in 5 respondents expressing an interest; this could now mean sport in a very physically-active sense.

For those of us in the ICT industry who have been lucky enough to try VSports at events such as CES, general consensus is that this could be a big category for VR, both at home and in larger installations. As an analyst, I am frequently asked where the opportunities for VR lie for the channel, and VSports offer both a B2B and consumer market. Health technology is persistently strong in terms of sales, and the industry is accustomed to disruptive technology and wearables. Moreover, gyms have long been a customer of AV installers and resellers: almost all gyms contain dozens of TVs and LFDs. The sanitary aspect of VR headsets has not been missed by start-ups, with companies such as VR Cover popping up to sell washable VR peripherals.

Perhaps the most interesting example of the convergence of games, VR, and VSports is the phenomenon of accidental exercise. My own serendipitous encounter with VSport was whilst playing Knockout League on the Oculus Rift/Touch recently. After over an hour of shadow boxing I removed my headset to discover the sort of sweat I’d expect after a 5km run. I’m not the only industry professional to accidentally work out during a normal gaming session: Job Stauffer, Telltale’s head of creative communications recently announced that he’d lost over 50lb playing a VR game, in this case Sandboxing. For those of you in the channel who have routes to the healthcare verticals and are also lucky enough to be distributors or resellers of one of the high-end VR HMDs, my advice is to start some serious conversations about the new categories of VR Fitness Devices and Accessories.

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by JW

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Filed under Connectivity, gaming, Mobile technology, virtual reality

Why isn’t IT market intelligence obsessed with optimising the multibillion-dollar mature industries?

I’ll level with you, I‘m confused.

When I look at recent premier IT events such as Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona and CES in Las Vegas, I see an industry that is almost entirely focused on the future. Obviously, technology players want to accelerate innovation – the event programme at this year’s MWC for example includes a session called the “4th Industrial Revolution”.

But what about optimising the performance of the mature €650 billion[1] European IT market? Compare the MWC and CES programmes with the Consumer Goods Forum, the premier gathering of the food and drink sector, at €1,048 billion[2] making it the largest manufacturing industry in Europe, and you’ll see a programme in which innovation is there, but sitting alongside good stewardship of their well-established sectors.

In a mature industry, performance parameters are well known, top line growth is small, big players that can’t keep up get acquired by nimbler competitors, and optimisation is key. As well as innovating in emerging technologies, the IT industry should be innovating in its core businesses to optimise performance in the mature sectors. One example – in an area I know well – is how companies see the role of sales tracking in the new world of established technologies, grown up now after 30 years. The over-complication of market intelligence (MI) offerings here is causing a raft of issues, and users of this data should be demanding better. To paraphrase a few people, I’ve heard:

“We are drowning in data, we just don’t know what to do with it …”

“We spend so much time compiling different sources that the real analytics come as a second thought”, and

“We don’t fully understand what each dataset actually represents, or how to act on it.”

In the IT sectors, this sentiment isn’t exclusive to vendors – it is shared in their channel by distribution and reseller partners –it being generally accepted that MI data is sub-par as delivered today.

This problem has been around for quite some time. In a previous role at one of the largest and oldest technology firms in the world, I worked with one of the most sophisticated MI solutions I’ve ever seen. “Well done them”, you might think. In reality, it wasn’t without strife. It took the company over three years to design and implement that solution and, to this day, it still requires many people across the globe to combine multiple data sources into ‘one version of the truth’. The company implemented this solution at the tail end of what was generally considered the ‘maturation’ of the PC industry. Any other company thinking of undertaking a similar task today in the printing, display, PC, or other flat or declining mature industry, would need to be resource-rich and highly committed to the cause.

Whilst it is imperative to stay abreast of shifts in consumer and business trends, managing the at-risk 1% of a multi-billion-dollar established industry is as important, if not more so in some cases, as getting established in multi-million-dollar upcoming categories. Indeed, the frustration voiced by the industry would suggest that this is the case. Is it possible that many participants in these mature-technology industries are struggling to monitor and protect their cash-generating business, and that this impacts their ability to invest in new technology in the future?

What is needed to fulfill the requirements of such companies? At CONTEXT, we are working with our customers and partners to address this issue, and have designed a number of new services that provide both broad and specific analyses of mature IT product categories. The key focus areas for this new breed of deliverables are reliability, cost-effectiveness and simple implementation, so that instead of drowning in data and wasting time trying to bring together multiple data sources, the user is able to integrate information easily into existing operations and spend time more productively in improving their business. In essence, that’s our aim at CONTEXT: to help our customers and partners Optimise Today, and Accelerate Tomorrow.

by TP

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[1] EITO Report Western Europe 2013/14

[2] Food Drink Europe 2014

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Filed under Enterprise IT, Market Analysis, Mobile technology, Networking, Retail

Keeping customers in a crisis

When things get rough, you’re under pressure, customers are calling, how do you keep everyone happy and make sure you come out of the crisis with customer satisfaction intact?

The recent London Tube strike gave me an opportunity to see how this works in real life. With the Tube shut down, taxi services were at a premium. My preferred provider is Addison-Lee, I’m not a fan of Uber or back street mini-cab companies. I spend hundreds with Add-Lee, so was sure my booking to Heathrow would get through.

No luck.

Just after the payment screen on the iPhone app, a message appears saying “No credit card or cash bookings due to the strike”.

And then, up pops an email in my inbox from Hailo. “Don’t worry about the strike,” it says, “we’re doing our best to keep you moving”. Even better, Hailo allows pre-booking, so within minutes I had a cab booked and was on my way to the airport.

So my personal consumer reaction?

Addison-Lee, you let me down in my hour of need. Uber, you ripped off users with 300% price hikes. Hailo, you’re my hero, and I will definitely be using you again.

by JD

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Filed under Connectivity, Mobile technology

Mobile security represents untapped growth opportunity for ICT channel players

According to results of the recent CONTEXT ChannelWatch survey, the majority of resellers across EMEA believe there are increased opportunities in selling mobile products.

The CONTEXT ChannelWatch report, which surveys close to 7000 resellers in EMEA, highlights that 88% of resellers backed this fast-growing sector. Tablets (67%), notebooks (56%) and smartphones (49%) were singled out as driving distribution sales.

As the annual Infosecurity Show in London gets underway today, the ChannelWatch results show that more specifically, mobile security was highlighted as representing a potentially large untapped growth opportunity for many channel players. Half of all respondents from Western Europe said they currently don’t address security projects for mobiles for their business customers. Of those that do, the vast majority (69%) focus on small and medium sized businesses (SMBs).

In Eastern Europe, nearly two-thirds of channel players (64%) are currently not involved in mobile security projects for business customers – a much higher figure than in the West (50%). Of those that do, the vast majority (76%) focus on SMBs.

While half of the resellers polled said they weren’t engaged in security projects yet, this represents a huge opportunity for them going forward. With security top of mind in many businesses we expect to see growth in this area going forward.

CONTEXT ChannelWatch is an annual research study that provides the most detailed insight into reseller behaviour, opinions and attitudes from across EMEA. With 6799 responding to the 2014 review making it the largest study of its kind.

Working closely with our distribution Panel, we achieve the maximum response in each market and region by inviting our participating distributors to send to their entire database. The online survey is then completed by the reseller response aggregated to ensure that confidentiality remains. More on CONTEXT ChannelWatch here.

 

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Filed under IT Distribution, Mobile technology, Security

Going out of Body Combat™

by Mathias Knöfel, Enterprise Analyst

My local gym is closing!

This blog was supposed to be about HP’s purchase of Aruba, the possible effect on their position in the market, and how well (or not) they will be able to integrate the acquisition. I guess that time will tell if they manage to do this successfully.

At present, I am preoccupied with the closure of the VA gym in Putney.

I guess there might be people that see a gym as a place they dread going to, and hearing about the closure of their gym might even be celebrated by them, giving them another reason NOT to go. For me, it’s a sad situation. This gym has been a social hotspot for me over the past 14 years, where I have made many friends, on top of exercising and keeping fit.

And I am not the only one who feels like this. Many people who used to come regularly to gym classes also enjoyed the social aspect, as well as the group enthusiasm for exercise… and the occasional night out! As we were left high and dry, been given only two weeks’ notice before closure, and one week to transfer to another gym (much further away), there is a group of us that want to maintain the spirit and social aspect, even if we have to transfer. As one of my friends has put it: “unless you’ve been to Putney gym, you just don’t get it”!

We started to mobilise ourselves, creating a web-page for information, and an online spreadsheet to record people’s names to show to the management of the next club that we are serious about this. Also, many of us have taken to social media, sharing thoughts, memories, pictures, and grief!

This activity has made me realise that all of this is readily available today, and we have come to expect it. The mobility aspect of this shows the importance of accessing information and social media wherever we are, through devices from smartphones to notebooks.

Telcos want us to use their networks, but these are not always available (besides, 4G is still somewhat expensive). We have seen an uptake in powerline adaptors for consumers and SMBs, as they want to make the most of the mobile devices they own, whether at home or in the office. When you are out shopping, or go for a meal, many places provide free Wi-Fi. In the corporate space, more and more offices are fitted with wireless access points.

With this demand growing as we become more mobile still, the purchase of Aruba by HP would appear to be a step into the right direction.

Unfortunately I cannot say that about the decision of VA headquarters – at least not from a members’ point of view.

*Body Combat™ is one of many classes offered by Les Mills at Virgin Active

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