Verizon Wireless will release a new flagship Windows Phone 8 device on its LTE network later this month.
The Nokia Lumia 928 will be available starting May 16 for the cost of a two-year contract and $150, which can be knocked down $50 by sending in a rebate. Verizon is sweetening the pot for Lumia 928 buyers with a limited-time offer of a $25 credit for Windows Phone apps and games from the Windows Phone Store.
The 928 joins the Nokia Lumia 822, the HTC 8X and the Samsung ATIV Odyssey in Verizon's Windows 8 lineup on its 4G network.
Prior to Verizon's announcement, AT&T was the only carrier with Nokia's flagship-class 92x phones. AT&T has been selling the Lumia 920 since November.
Here are the specs for the 928 from Nokia's press release Friday:
- Display: 4.5 inch WXGA HD OLED; Resolution 1280 x 768, Aspect Ratio 15:9, Pixel Density 334 ppi; ClearBlack display, Sunlight Readability Enhancement (SRE), High Brightness Mode (HBM); Luminance 300 nits (nominal max), 500 nits (High Brightness Mode); Color depth 24 bit, 16M colors, refresh rate 60Hz; Super-sensitive capacitive touch enables interacting with the display with gloves and long fingernails; Display active area: 58.37 mm x 97.28 mm; 2.5D Corning® Gorilla® Glass 2
- Battery: Integrated 2000mAh battery, Li-po, BV 4-NW
- Processor:1.5GHz dual core, Qualcomm MSM8960+WTR
- Main Camera: PureView 8.7MP Auto Focus with Carl Zeiss Tessar f/2.0, 26mm True 16:9 optics, 1.4 sensor; Optical Image stabilization; Xenon Flash for Still Images, 1.4 sensor; Optical Image stabilization; Xenon Flash for Still Images; LED for Video; HD 1080p Video Capture @ 30 fps
- Front facing camera: 720p HD video and 1.2MP still images
- Memory: 1 GB RAM; 32GB internal memory (formatted capacity is less); 7GB free in SkyDrive with additional storage via subscription
Posted by Scott Bekker on May 10, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments
The rare public look provided last week by market researchers at Gartner into vendor-by-vendor CRM revenues is raising some critical attention.
In a blog post Monday, Constellation Research Principal Analyst and CEO R "Ray" Wang argues the figures, especially Microsoft's $1 billion in 2012 CRM revenues, "do not meet the general sniff test."
For the record, Wang notes that he thinks the revenue figures for Oracle and SAP are inflated, too, although he agrees with the headline of Gartner's research -- that Salesforce.com claimed the top CRM spot from SAP in the last year.
With experience both as an analyst and as head of CRM analyst relations for PeopleSoft back in the mid-2000s, Wang acknowledges that it "is hard work" divining revenues from software vendors, who would just as soon hide their sales or lead analysts to more positive conclusions than reality warrants.
Nonetheless, Wang zeroes in on Microsoft's past public statements about overall Dynamics revenues, including both ERP and CRM. From that basis, he argues for Constellation Research's estimate that overall Microsoft Dynamics revenues totaled between $1.5 billion and $1.6 billion in 2012. CRM would have had to grow exponentially and ERP would have had to crater, Wang contends, for Microsoft Dynamics CRM to hit $1 billion on its own.
For what it's worth, Microsoft has been quiet about the alleged milestone, as well. There are no mentions of $1 billion in CRM revenue in the Dynamics newsroom or in Microsoft's section on analyst coverage or in the official Dynamics blog. That could mean Microsoft is throwing a wet blanket on the numbers or simply that the software giant doesn't want to call attention to a fourth-place finish.
Posted by Scott Bekker on May 07, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments
When it comes to tech, the annual Fortune magazine ranking of the largest global companies shows Apple, Amazon.com and Google on the march, others stumbling around in a single-digit growth range, and a third group suffering falling revenues.
Fortune released its Fortune 500 list today. Among the top 100 companies on the list are 14 names crucial to the channel: Apple (rank 6), HP (15), Verizon Communications (16), IBM (20), Microsoft (35), Amazon.com (49), Dell (51), Intel (54), Google (55), Cisco Systems (60), Best Buy (61), Ingram Micro (76), Oracle (80) and Sprint Nextel (87). (Fortune's headline ranking depends on a company's annual revenues.)
For Apple, the sixth-place ranking is the company's first time to crack the Top 10. Fortune put the company's revenues at $156 billion for the list, with growth of 44.6 percent. That was good for a jump in rank from 17th last year that vaulted Apple past tech rivals HP and Verizon Communications.
Other big winners in 2012 were Google with 38 percent revenue growth and a huge jump in placement from 73rd to 55th, and Amazon with 27 percent revenue growth and a leap from 56th to 49th place.
The single-digit growth tier included Verizon (4.5 percent), Microsoft (5.4 percent), Cisco (6.6 percent), Ingram Micro (4.1 percent), Oracle (4.2 percent) and Sprint Nextel (4.9 percent).
Perhaps the biggest story of the Fortune 100 in tech is the drops. In Fortune's main article summarizing the year's list, the only tech company that earns a mention is HP. Shawn Tully, Fortune senior-editor-at-large, called HP's swing from a $7.1 billion profit in 2011 to a $12.7 billion loss in 2012 "the 26th worst in Fortune 500 history." Tully explained to Fortune readers that the reason for the loss was "two disastrous acquisitions" -- Autonomy and Electronic Data Systems.
For all that, HP's revenues only dropped 5.4 percent from 2011 to 2012. Dell saw its ranking fall seven places on a revenue drop of 8.3 percent and Best Buy, which has made several runs at the channel in the small business market, fell eight places and had a revenue slide of 11.8 percent.
Other Fortune 100 tech companies with revenue drops were IBM (- 2.3 percent) and Intel (- 1.2 percent).
Posted by Scott Bekker on May 06, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments
In the housekeeping department, I should mention that RCPmag.com now has a responsive Web design.
For those as bewildered by the term as I was when I first heard it, responsive Web design means the pages resize automatically for different screen sizes, be they large desktop monitors, laptops, tablets or smartphones.
Naturally, it's an important step, especially on the mobile side. We've noticed, as has anyone who explores their Web analytics, that mobile views of our content are experiencing the classic hockey-stick growth pattern. Some aspects of our prior-to-responsive-design (I hate to say non-responsive) could be pretty cramped on a smartphone or tablet.
If you haven't explored the site lately, a few things to point out:
- Give us another try with your smartphone. Even the homepage content stacks nicely so you can scroll smoothly up and down to see all the content. No pinching, zooming or needing to move side-to-side to view anything. Huge kudos to the Web team for reverse-engineering a site not originally intended for smartphone viewers to make it look as if we were planning for that form factor all along.
- Printing out articles from our site has become much cleaner due to the change, even without using the "Printable Format" option.
- In other news, we've also switched comments to the Disqus system, which has some killer community features, and the sign-in requirement helps keep out the spammers and trolls.
Hope you enjoy the changes as much as I do. Please let us know if you run into an issue viewing anything.
Posted by Scott Bekker on May 02, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments
Changes rolled out recently give Microsoft partners selling Office 365 and Windows Intune the maximum Partner of Record margin with a much smaller number of seats than were called for by Microsoft's original plan for this fiscal year.
In July at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft introduced a four-tier system of Advisor Incentives. The maximum level involved a first-year payout of 23 percent, but only after partners had sold 2,500 seats or more. Now partners reach the maximum 23 percent payout level with only 150 seats sold.
"What we announced at WPC had a few tiers. We decided we wanted to make it simple," said Josh Waldo, senior director of cloud partner strategy at Microsoft.
Waldo said the two-tier system went into effect around March, when Microsoft also began allowing partners to bill customers for Office 365 through the Office 365 Open licensing program.
Specifically, Microsoft offers a 12 percent incentive payment for new sales or new deployments of Office 365 or Windows Intune. Once partners clear the 150-seats-over-three-deals qualifier for Microsoft's Cloud Accelerate program, they begin to receive a 7 percent Accelerator incentive on top of the 12 percent. In addition, Microsoft pays out a 4 percent maintenance incentive to the Partner of Record each year, including the first.
The new model effectively has first-year incentives worth 16 percent or 23 percent. Previously, the tiers were 16 percent, 20 percent, 22 percent and 23 percent.
As with the earlier Advisor Incentive schedule, incentive payments are retroactive to previous deals once the partner clears the seat hurdle to earn the Accelerator.
"It's retroactive to July 1. The whole goal here is to help partners be profitable with the cloud," Waldo said.
Posted by Scott Bekker on May 01, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments
New numbers released by Microsoft suggest the technology giant may finally be succeeding at persuading its huge channel to join its cloud effort.
"Today Microsoft partners have hit a big milestone. There are now more than 125,000 of you taking advantage of our Cloud Essentials program," wrote Microsoft's Jon Roskill on his "Channel Chief" blog Wednesday.
Cloud Essentials is a free subprogram of the Microsoft Partner Network that gives partners 25 Internal Use Rights (IURs) of Office 365, Dynamics CRM Online and Windows Intune; technical training, support and tools; and marketing tools. When partners join Cloud Essentials, they sign the Microsoft Online Services Partner Agreement (MOSPA) and become eligible for partner referral benefits -- basically, a 16 percent kickback from Microsoft in the first year (4 percent in subsequent years) for every seat they sell as Partner of Record.
With Office 365, partners also now have the choice to forgo the Partner of Record model and participate in Office 365 Open licensing, an approach that allows them to directly bill the customer for a package of services that includes Office 365.
The 125,000-partner milestone represents a startling acceleration of participation.
At the last Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in July, Microsoft claimed 35,000 Cloud Essentials participants. By November, Cloud Essentials enrollment had hit 61,000. The new enrollment figure represents growth of 250 percent from the July 2012 level.
"I don't know any program that we've had that has increased in that kind of volume in that amount of time. It's just incredibly encouraging to see the partners get interested and start to rally around the cloud," said Josh Waldo, senior director of cloud partner strategy for Microsoft, in an interview.
Waldo attributes the momentum both to practical changes within the MPN and to overall industry attitudes toward the cloud.
Microsoft recently changed its partner portal to present partners with a prominent option to sign up for Cloud Essentials when they join the MPN or when they conduct their annual membership renewal. On the back end, Microsoft also collected formerly separate steps -- signing up for Cloud Essentials, signing the MOSPA and collecting IURs -- into one integrated workflow, Waldo said.
"Now it's a couple of clicks and you're in. When you do things that make it very easy to sign up, when you support partners in practical ways, you get good results," he said.
On the other side, Waldo contends more partners are becoming more open to the idea of starting cloud practices as they observe changes in the industry and respond to demand from their own customers.
"I think industry-wide, most everyone is talking about services and devices and how cloud is the underlying piece to all of that. Partners know they need to make an investment. They know they're going to have to act on this. When they're presented with an easy on-board, I think that helps," Waldo said.
Asked how much of a factor the introduction in the last few months of direct billing, formally known as Office 365 Open, was in the increase in Cloud Essentials participation, Waldo couldn't immediately say. "I can tell you I was out in the field around the time of the [Office 365 Open] launch, and the response from our distributors and the VAR partners has been very positive around the model," Waldo said. "We've got the most expansive, largest, most powerful channel out there, and our goal is to help partners move into the cloud, move their customers into the cloud, be profitable and do it in a business model that works for them."
While Microsoft's figures indicate that nearly a quarter of the company's estimated 600,000 partners worldwide now participate in Cloud Essentials, that doesn't mean that many partners are actually selling Microsoft cloud offerings.
Converting Cloud Essentials partners to Cloud Accelerate partners -- those who sell at least 150 seats of Microsoft cloud products over three deals -- is an intense focus of Microsoft's. Waldo said 3,000 partners worldwide belong to Cloud Accelerate. Many more partners have sold some Office 365 -- either selling less than 150 total seats or selling more seats in fewer than three deals or not registering for Cloud Accelerate for other reasons. In an interview in late February, Roskill said about 20,000 partners sold Office 365 in the last year.
Waldo said that's part of the reason the IUR process is integrated into the sign-up. "The research that we have by mining the data is that Cloud Essentials partners that deploy and use the products internally are three times more likely to sell it," he said.
Posted by Scott Bekker on May 01, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments
Detailed estimates of Microsoft's CRM market share don't pop up every day. Usually it requires imaginative tea-leaf reading to figure out how the Dynamics CRM business, which is so important to a lot of Microsoft partners, is doing compared to rivals.
Which is why a new report from market researchers at Gartner is a welcome bit of data. Gartner today released excerpts from its "Market Share Analysis: Customer Relationship Management Software, Worldwide, 2012" report.
Where Microsoft stands is in fourth place, trailing Salesforce.com, SAP and Oracle. Salesforce's No. 1 standing, actually, is the main headline of the report, since the SaaS CRM vendor displaced SAP as the global CRM leader for the first time in 2012. Salesforce took $2.5 billion of the worldwide, all-vendor total of $18 billion in revenues. SAP sits at second place with $2.3 billion. Gartner places Oracle third with $2 billion.
That's the bad news for Microsoft, which has been at the CRM game for more than a decade. The good news for Redmond and its partners is that CRM officially joined Microsoft's billion-dollar-businesses club in calendar 2012. Gartner puts Microsoft's CRM revenues at $1.1 billion, up from $900 million in calendar 2011.
That's a sizable bump. As of May 2012, Microsoft was only claiming that all of Dynamics, which includes Microsoft's established ERP products as well as CRM, amounted to $1 billion in annual revenues. Meanwhile, one of the few public pieces of data in the past -- an IDC report from 2010 (and admittedly an apples-to-oranges comparison) -- had Dynamics CRM revenues at $214 million.
Microsoft's growth rate, according to Gartner, was 26 percent from 2011 to 2012. That's an impressive pace, no question. It could help Microsoft gain ground on SAP, which saw flat revenues, and Oracle, which increased revenues by just under 8 percent.
But it won't be enough to gain on market leader Salesforce.com, which also grew revenues by 26 percent in the same period.
Meanwhile, IBM is nipping at Microsoft's heels in Gartner's estimation. Big Blue's CRM effort leapt 39 percent from 2011 revenues of $465 million to 2012 revenues of $649 million.
That CRM appears to be outperforming ERP within the Dynamics suite for Microsoft fits with overall market dynamics that Gartner analysts are seeing. Joanne Correia, vice president at Gartner, said in a statement that market growth for CRM in 2012 was three times the average for all enterprise software.
Dynamics CRM also appears to be on the right side of another trend documented by the market researchers -- an increasing appetite for SaaS CRM among customers. Gartner says customer interest in SaaS has driven cloud versions to 40 percent of overall CRM revenues in 2012. That's a trend that favors Salesforce.com, certainly, but it also validates Microsoft's increasing emphasis on Dynamics CRM Online.
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 29, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments
Over the last few months, Condusiv Technologies has steadily transformed its performance optimization technology.
The company is familiar to the channel and IT professionals first as Executive Software, then as Diskeeper -- in both cases, the company that provided the disk defragmentation software included for years with shipping copies of Windows. Historically, Condusiv's predecessors have earned their revenues by upselling fuller-featured desktop defragmentation software, as well as selling server disk defragmentation software.
But following a leadership change in late 2011 and a company name change to Condusiv in 2012, the Burbank, Calif.-based company has been rearchitecting the products. Condusiv's latest products emphasize I/O optimization inside the server, ordering the bits into more easily stored and accessed chunks before they're written to disk rather than trying to reorder the disk after the data's been scattered across it.
The first fruits of the new approach came in V-locity 4, released in December. That product attacks the problem on virtual systems -- an environment where it is especially helpful to organize the data before it leaves the virtual machine since it will generally share disk space with the output of other virtual machines. The V-locity brand has been around for a few years, but prior to Version 4, the tool handled optimization at the disk level rather than before it came out of the OS.
Now, Condusiv is releasing the technology in another way. While V-locity is intended for virtual machines, Condusiv on Monday released V-locity Server for physical server environments. In short, the product handles the I/O optimization on a physical server before sending it to the direct-attached storage or to the NAS or SAN. Condusiv positions V-locity Server as especially well-suited for Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL Server systems, as well as other applications that throw off a lot of I/O.
The V-locity products include two main components that each tackle different problems for I/O-intensive applications. IntelliMemory caches the most active data in the server's memory to prevent many I/O operations from occurring at all. IntelliWrite short-circuits Windows' tendency to split files into multiple pieces for I/O and instead stitches them back together before they can be written to disk in widely varying locations.
In an interview, Robert Woolery, senior vice president of product marketing and management, said the new Condusiv products provide better optimization performance than the company's previous disk-side defragmentation and I/O optimization software. He said there is no tangible, additional benefit to running V-locity products in conjunction with the disk-side software like Diskeeper Server.
Woolery said Condusiv delivered the virtual server version earlier because of market dynamics.
"The footprint is enormous on the physical side, but the momentum is on virtual servers and we expect to sell more licenses on the virtual side," Woolery said.
In either configuration, Condusiv also offers a component called the Benefit Analyzer, which helps the company make a guarantee that it encourages channel partners to use as a selling point. The Benefit Analyzer is self-auditing benchmark software that provides customers with a before-and-after performance comparison. Since February, Condusiv has been offering money back for customers who don't see at least a 25 percent performance improvement, and that guarantee stands for V-locity Server too.
According to Woolery, Condusiv continues to see customers getting a performance boost of about 50 percent, making the 25 percent guarantee an under promise/over deliver proposition.
In the meantime, Woolery contends the 50 percent performance optimizations can add up to big savings in the right circumstances.
"If customers are looking at their environment, and concluding they've got to buy an additional hundred servers at $10,000 per server, that's $1 million to refresh the environment," Woolery said. "If you load our software into your servers, you can increase the performance by 50 percent and use that $1 million for other purposes."
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 22, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments
It seems hard to believe, but for six months one of the most basic functions in business -- printing a PDF -- wasn't possible from Adobe's official Windows 8 Reader app. (For that entire time, it was possible to print from the Reader app built in to Windows 8.)
Just ahead of the operating system's six-month anniversary on April 26, Adobe posted an update in the Windows Store to support printing in Adobe Reader Touch for Windows 8.
In an announcement posted on an Adobe message board April 11, Dennis Griffin, the principal product manager for Adobe Reader for Tablets and Smartphones, wrote, "We have just released an update that addresses the most popular request we've heard, the need for Printing. Update your app from the Windows Store to get this latest capability, and continue to let us know what you need most!"
Griffin's terse, upbeat announcement doesn't mention what caused the delay in one of the most basic of functions.
Printing PDFs has been possible from Windows 8's built-in Reader app in Windows 8, which has more robust options to start with than the Windows Store app. However, users who installed the Adobe App early on in their Windows 8 experience sometimes ended up defaulting to the Adobe Reader Touch app without realizing there was a built-in option.
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 18, 2013 at 11:58 AM1 comments
Continuum brought on Mark Zahar last August to make a difference for its MSP partners.
"A number of our partners expressed a critical need for help in marketing and sales to help them scale their business," said Steve Ricketts, vice president of marketing at the Boston-based MSP-solution provider company.
Zahar, who had spent the previous decade helping build an online marketing company called Prospectiv, joined Continuum in August, but he didn't come in with a to-do list. He spent months talking to partners and the SMB customers who buy Continuum partners' services.
"We went out and not only talked to MSPs on how they sell, but we spent a lot of time with SMBs on how they buy SMB services. It was an important part of the process," said Zahar, vice president of channel marketing and community development at Continuum.
In that time Zahar found out a few things about SMB customers. "They don't really understand technology. What these SMBs understand is, 'How do I make sure my technology is running at top speed?' They don't want their customers to have an issue," he said.
At the same time, the MSP partners are pulled in many different directions and usually break a fundamental maxim of marketing, which is a steady stream of effort. "They realize they need to do a lot more around marketing, but they're dealing with mission-critical systems, hiring, employee issues, clients. It doesn't leave them a lot of time to do sales and marketing," Zahar said. "They put one bullet in the gun. They take one shot, and they miss, and they don't do it again."
A lot of vendors provide their channel partners with collateral that those partners can tweak with their own brand. Zahar found that customizable collateral is actually another marketing stumbling block. The requirement to go in and change the materials just puts it in the pile of things that partners, especially some of the lean MSPs that serve the SMB market, don't find time to do.
Continuum's new approach is Marketing Advantage, a program that will launch on April 23. The program requires a brief onboarding process that involves loading a company logo and color scheme into Continuum's system, along with the company's information. Partners also upload their customer and prospect lists into Continuum's database, although Zahar said that information is partitioned and will not be used by Continuum except to send out campaigns on the partner's behalf.
From there, Continuum's system starts sending out information on a regular basis to SMB prospects -- a steady drip of business-relevant information that keeps the partner's name in front of the prospect. "We're talking to an owner of a business about things that are relevant to them. What we're not doing is sending a message around 'Why RMM' or 'Why BDR' or 'Why help desk,'" Zahar said.
Meanwhile, the steady stream of information ensures the partner is top of mind for the customer when their system goes down, which is the time that SMBs "pull the trigger" on MSP-related purchases, Zahar said.
The system also routes inbound information requests and integrates with social media and CRM systems, including Microsoft Dynamics. Continuum is charging partners $500 a month to participate with a six-month commitment. As part of the onboarding process, Continuum works with a telemarketing firm to collect 100 pre-qualified leads on behalf of the MSP to help populate the database.
"The reason that we're doing this is to help our partners scale and grow," Ricketts said.
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 17, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments
Kaseya is embracing a freemium model to expand the customer base for its cloud services.
The remote monitoring and management tools vendor this week released a set of five SaaS IT tools that are free solutions for very specific IT headaches.
Kaseya goes to market in two ways -- mainly through its 6,000 partners, mostly managed services providers, and directly to corporate IT departments. Liz Lederer, senior vice president of Kaseya field marketing channel programs, said in an interview that the company believes the new tools will help MSP partners add net new customers.
"Having these free tools now is actually a great thing for our partners because our partners could use them as door openers or for planting the seeds with some of their customers. There could be just a particular problem that they're looking to solve. Or there could be a particular piece of our technology that they're looking to add into their portfolio of management solutions," Lederer said.
Gerald Beaulieu, vice president of product marketing at Kaseya, said the five SaaS IT tools are only an initial set and more will be coming.
"Our initial release is focused on auditing and security, because in many ways they kind of go hand in hand," Beaulieu said.
The immediately available tools are File Share Audit, User Audit, Software Audit, Security Audit and Windows Patch Management. All of the tools require only an e-mail address to set up and can be used to manage up to 1,000 computers.
"We're starting to carve out specific areas of our product that we can deliver to IT professionals or that our channel partners can sell ultimately to end customers that address specific pain points that they're having with those organizations," Beaulieu said.
"They may not need an entire platform to address the one issue. So what this does is it says, 'Hey, let's address that pain point through a tool.' It could be a free offering; it could be a paid offering. Get them in the family, let them see the benefits that we can offer, and then over time hopefully we can bring them up to our complete solution," he said. "And if not, if that one tool solves their pain point forever, then that's fine. So there will be some that will move up the stack and some that will stay."
The free tools use the same agent that Kaseya normally installs for its full RMM and other products, meaning that should customers chose to upgrade, it's just a matter of turning on the existing functionality, Beaulieu said.
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 11, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments
Ingram Micro is demoing a revamped insourcing platform this week at the distributor's Cloud Summit in Phoenix.
Launched Monday, the platform is called IM Link. Like the programs it replaces, the Ingram Micro Services Network (IMSN) and the IM Onsite platform, IM Link is designed to allow North American Ingram Micro partners to round out their capabilities for one-off business deals by contracting with authorized services partners that can perform white-labeled work.
Jason Bystrak, director of sales for Ingram Micro's Services Division in North America described IM Link as "IMSN on steroids."
Key improvements to the 15-year-old IMSN are a broader range of professional services and enhanced automation.
Service areas now offered by Ingram Micro partners to other Ingram Micro partners through IM Link include planning, implementation, management and support. The automation of the online platform now brings together searches for partner capabilities, the ability to manage workflows and tools for conducting financial transactions.
Posted by Scott Bekker on April 10, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments