Tag Archives: mobile

How the mobile and cloud dream team is reshaping sport and enterprise

The NBA has led the way in the use of mobile technology, powered by the cloud, the bring the sport into the 21st century.

Mobile makes computing look easy; not only easy but sexy too. From point-to-point directions to play-by-play sports action, our screens light up at just the right moment to keep us in the know. In reality, however, mobile devices are just an endpoint. They are powerful, but nowhere near powerful enough to perform the processing required for all but the most basic operations.

And just as professional athletes make their sport look easy, in reality these super stars actually have an entire team behind them that propels them to shine at just the right moment. For mobile, this powerful teammate is the cloud. It is precisely in sports where mobile, and its massive computing power teammate, the cloud, shine their brightest.

The cloud, with its distributed and scalable computing model is the brains and brawn behind the mobile mod. The cloud is a critical component for exciting mobile experiences. It is the cloud in conjunction with mobile that is able to meet the demand of that ever growing number of mobile devices which now exceeds the population of the planet.

Sports venues and teams are leveraging cloud and mobile to jump ahead of enterprises in their pursuit of pushing the frontier at the end-user mobile experience. Business can find a lot to learn from the success of the power couple of cloud and mobile in sports.

First, sports teams are leveraging the power of the cloud and mobile to extend existing services. The NBA is using the cloud to deliver statistics, from the most recent games all the way back to the first game played in 1946. This just wasn’t possible before mobile and the cloud when the computing power of the average user was isolated to the PC on her desk. But fans today can use their mobile device to answer in an instant questions like, who is the bigger basketball star, Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

Businesses too should first look for systems and processes that would benefit from the computing power of the cloud to improve existing capabilities. They should look for present processes that are slow or could be enhanced through a more dynamic distribution platform. This could mean improving the systems and services for customers as well as internal employees.

Sport teams are also using mobile and the cloud to expand their fan base and loyalty in novel ways. From fan analytics to better understanding their customer, to social and sentiment analysis, to precision and contextual marketing

For example, to call on the NBA again, they are testing a precision marketing service, from mobile carrier Verizon, to present promotions that associate a fan’s location, demographic data, and nearby businesses such as fast food establishments. These establishments have seen an average increase of 8.4% in sales following a promotional game. What used to only be actionable well after the fact is now actionable in real-time because of the compute power of the cloud delivered directly to fans mobile devices.

Businesses too should be looking for ways to expand their existing sales and partner networks by using the power of the cloud. They should look for ways to combine ancillary revenue opportunities to further bring value to their clients. Businesses should be asking where can we leverage our customer base, customer data, partner network, and combine that into a compelling proposition that can be computed in the cloud and delivered as a value added service to existing and potential clients.

The power of cloud and mobile isn’t just for improving client services and offerings. It is being used in sports for looking at internal operations as well. Teams are asking, what could make us a better, stronger team? These teams have come to rely on analytics powered by the cloud and mobile as much as they do a coach or star player.

Professional sports organization are betting big too. From recruiting, to scouting, to salary cap management, to player analytics, sport teams are voraciously consuming the cloud and mobile to find that edge against the competition. The NHL uses analytics to analyze in real time the effectiveness of a team’s style of play. The NFL uses analytics powered by the cloud to help select draft picks. Teams are turning to the cloud via mobile on almost a play-by-play basis for next step insight.

Many sports teams are making the analytics department one of the most crucial members of the team. They have come to see that the success of their season depends on it. Why then are many business, with just as much on the line, not taking advantage of the same capabilities?

Like sports, business should be turning the power of the cloud on themselves to find efficiencies, advantages, weakness, and room for improvement. They should break down their processes and actions into distinct pieces to find an advantage. Most importantly, they should use mobile to get this data into the hands of the right people at the right time to leverage it to the fullest.

Sport teams have demonstrated that the cloud and mobile can be a powerful ally. Those who wield it win, those who don’t stand there wondering why. Is your business positioned to win or wonder? Is actionable data in the hands of those who need it the most when they need it? The cloud and mobile are on your team – have you put them in the game?

Benjamin Robbins is a co-founder at Palador, a mobile consultancy located in Seattle, WA. He can be followed on Twitter @PaladorBenjamin.

This article was originally published on The Guardian on Sept 29, 2014


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What can enterprises learn from the way the sporting world serves its fans?


If you haven’t been to a sporting match in the last couple of years you’ve surely missed the frustration of attempting to connect to a severely strained mobile carrier network. Driven by the demands of tech savvy and constantly connected users, sporting venues today are responding by building new (or retrofitting) massive WiFi infrastructures to meet the crushing demands of mobile bandwidth hungry fans. In doing so, fan engagement and expectations at sporting events are undergoing unprecedented change.

These high tech venues are providing a host of expanded and personalised experiences for fans. From the moment they enter the venue, fans can get services that direct them to their seats, allow them to upgrade those seats, or give them the ability to order food and beer without ever having to get up and miss the action. These highly connected venues can also deliver instant replays, providing multi camera angles straight to your mobile device. Fans are catered to at an individual level like never before.

Just as sports venues have woken up to the fact that they can, and must, dramatically change the on-premise experience by taking advantage of users’ excitement for mobile, businesses too have the same opportunity. Succeed and employees will not only have higher satisfaction at work, but they’re likely to put in more hours as well. Fail and you run the risk of your employees looking for a better run team. However, this will take financial and resource commitment by the business to invest in infrastructure, security, and services to see this come to fruition.

How should enterprises take the first step to create a contextually relevant connected culture? They can start by making sure they have the capacity for users to connect. They can perform an assessment of their WiFI capacity and increase access points if need be. The number of devices employees will be bringing into the workplace will only continue to go up and without the ability to connect to the network, and beyond, the opportunity of connectivity will be lost.

Organisations will also need to develop a strategy for mobile and the cloud that takes into consideration what it means to enable their end users. Mobility is only a gimmick if it doesn’t meet actual employee needs. Organisations need to think beyond IT and involve the business side of the operation to truly understand which apps and services it should be providing in order to deliver contextually relevant experiences.

There are many on-premise contextual services that enterprises could enable for employees. From a help-desk experience, to workflows, to analytics, to cloud storage, enterprises have a huge opportunity to make mobile experiences directly-relevant to the end user. These solutions can leverage the additional information mobile devices can provide to deliver the right information at the right time and right place.

Organisations need to look at how they will develop, deploy, and manage these services and security to end users for a smooth experience. This can usually be greatly accelerated through one of the many enterprise mobility management suites available on the market. They will give businesses a base platform for security, app management, and information control.

As much as sporting events have changed the in-venue experience for fans, they have also changed what it means to be an engaged fan outside of the venue. This might be in the comfort of your home, or out at a restaurant or a bar. The challenge venues faces is figuring out what can be done to further draw fans into the action of the game. How can they make those fan experiences as rich and relevant as the fans who are in-venue?

Sports leagues and venues have responded to this remote fan challenge by offering the opportunity to engage with players, fans, and coaching staff through social media. They’ve also created game and trivia questions to compete against other fans. Mobility too offers fans a second screen, contextual experience of related real-time information to the game and players as it happens.

Business should ask the same types of questions as to how to enable remote employees in new and personalised ways. Is your sales superstar about to show up at a key client? Why not have all her related information ready based on their calendar and current location. Need to bring a distributed team together to review product information? Leverage apps such as Fuze or Skype to connect everyone with the devices they already own rather than expensive legacy video conference equipment. The relevancy of these experiences is only limited by an organisations ability to streamline their process to the individual employee.

Mobile will only further blur the lines on what an engaged fan means. It will also continue to blur the boundaries of what “office” and network means. However, with this blurring of lines, enterprises, like sports venues, can take advantage of mobile devices to better deliver and gather information as it happens. Businesses need to provide contextual experiences to connect employees like fans, as an ongoing experience that meets relevant needs at the right time and right place for the win.

Benjamin Robbins is a co-founder at Palador, a mobile consultancy located in Seattle, WA. He can be followed on Twitter @PaladorBenjamin.

This article was originally published on The Guardian on Sept 26, 2014

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25 Things Influential People Do Better Than Anyone Else

I was honored to find that I was named as part of  the Forbes article 25 Things Influential People Do Better Than Anyone Else. Check out the article and see if you agree!


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Mobile Has to Matter

This article was originally published on Sept 3 2011 on HP’s September issue of Discover Performance

Mobile influencer Benjamin Robbins describes how enterprises can approach mobility to improve the enterprise, revitalize IT, and, most importantly, serve the user.   There isn’t an enterprise on the planet today that doesn’t recognize the value of mobility—not just to customers but also to employees. But mobile has emerged as such an important way of transacting business that some organizations get psyched out when they try to define their approach it.  We spoke with Benjamin Robbins, co-founder of enterprise mobility consultancy Palador, on how enterprises should think about mobile and the role that IT leadership can play in a self-service world of cloud and automation. Perhaps surprisingly, he said that, in some ways, mobile is no big deal.


Q: How do most enterprises view mobile? How does that contrast with how they should view mobile?

Benjamin Robbins: Companies should not look at mobile as a separate, siloed piece of technology. Mobile should, at its core, support the company’s objectives. Companies don’t have a laptop strategy or a PC strategy. Mobile is no different—it’s just a technology that needs to support the business. The way to avoid that is to always ask why. Why are we doing this? How does it support whatever aspect of the business we want to support? How does it help move us forward?

Q: Why do most enterprises have a hard time seeing mobile as just another tool in the toolbox?

BR: People get excited and think of it as special because anytime, anywhere connectivity to apps and services is a different compute paradigm. When you’re at a client site, you used to say, “I can send you that file when I get back to the office.” But mobile shortens the cycle. Whenever there’s a need, the ability to execute is much shorter. That’s exciting for organizations, but they have to stick to the core mission and ensure that mobility supports those core business processes.

Q: Where are enterprises messing up mobility?

BR: They’re tripping up in a few areas. First, there’s the traditional way of doing IT that has a really PC-centric sense of things like security and network. But now you have people bringing their own devices to work, and IT doesn’t always want to make the shift to handle it. Second, employees can now be their own IT. Everybody doesn’t have to have the same app—maybe you like QuickOffice, maybe I like something else—and IT doesn’t intuitively know how to handle that. Third, the whole idea of “network” is changing. Network used to be a physically bounded thing you had to plug into. All of that is changing, and organizations are tripping up because the mentality of IT isn’t changing.

Q: That seems like an issue for IT leadership.

BR: Yes, I think enterprises need to get to a place where IT leadership understands that IT’s role is changing but it’s not being eliminated. Business units have the knowledge and budget to drive services they need. However, they lack the technical heft. IT’s role is to enable those services, guide those services, understand existing capabilities in the marketplace, and play a support role in implementation. Business units don’t normally have the expertise to manage those things long term, so they need a partnership with IT. You really need IT leaders who don’t view their primary job function as cost cutting. It’s got to be about enabling people, not saving money.

Q: How does a visionary IT leader get the CIO and CFO to agree that cutting costs, or languishing with flat budgets, is not the way to manage IT?

BR: It is very simple. It involves the right attitude combined with the right metrics. First, organizations need a CIO and CFO who understand that there is a shift taking place, where technology is first being approached as an operational expense rather than a capital expense. Businesses need to exit the business of owning technology and spend the cycles instead on figuring out how services will advance the core business. This eliminates the attitude of treating technology as just another utility to be managed, like electricity or garbage. Second, as with any technical project, the “why” must be tied to ROI. CIOs should be able to answer how any project, be it mobile or not, advances the mission of the organization, and what sort of metrics are being used to measure the success of the investment. Mobile in no way should eliminate the need for fiduciary responsibility. The CIO should have no trouble drawing a line between technical budgets and organizational need.

Q: What kind of expertise will IT bring to the table, now that the business can generally help itself to the services it needs?

BR: The BUs get really excited about something, but might not see the bigger picture. One BU might get super-excited about a service and dump a bunch of data into it, and use it for a year before realizing it’s not what they need. Then they have to get that data out and don’t know how. IT can help with that—and help prevent that from happening in the first place.   Plus, you need people who can go deep into the data. Data streams are at the core of business value, so it’s imperative to have people who can manipulate and manage data beyond an Excel level of expertise.

Q: You spent a full year working only on a mobile device. What were the biggest insights you gleaned that might be helpful to enterprises working on a mobile strategy?

BR: I think that organizations, as part of their mobile policy, should advocate that it’s really important to maintain a healthy connected balance. If you say “we don’t need mobile,” you’ll fail, because competition will fly by you and you won’t know what happened. But by the same token, if you expect people to be connected 24/7, you’ll burn people out, and the organization will suffer, too. If you send someone an email, does it really matter that they get back to you in two minutes vs. two hours?   The important thing about mobile isn’t making people use it all the time—it’s using it in the right instances. Here’s an example. There’s a medical device company and their sales team had to get in front of surgeons. They found that with mobile devices, they could get right in front of surgeons while they’re scrubbing up for the next surgery. You couldn’t do that with computers, but with a tablet you can do that. A mobile strategy shouldn’t be about being constantly connected; it should be about using the technology in the right way at the right time.


Get more from Benjamin Robbins on Twitter at @PaladorBenjamin and at Palador.com.

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Enterprise Mobility is No Game

EA games (Electronic Arts, Inc.) recently released Plants vs. Zombies 2. Plants vs. Zombies has to be one of my favorite games to play on my mobile device. For those of you that don’t know, Plants vs Zombies is what’s known as a tower defense game. The object is to eliminate enemies as they attempt to cross a map. This is done by strategically placing artillery, mines, walls, etc. in the path of the approaching enemy. In the case of Plants vs. Zombies, instead of artillery, players place objects like pea-shooting plants to defeat zombies as they try to reach your house and eat your brains.

This follow-up to the extremely popular first version achieved over 16 million downloads in less than a week. However, there is one catch—it’s only available on iOS. For those of us on the Android platform, which by the way has almost 80% of the global mobile market share, we are out of luck. And with no Android release date in sight, non-iOS users are left in the lurch (bad zombie pun intended).

There are definitely financial reasons for this approach with consumer apps. For example, iOS users spend more money on apps and in-app purchases. Also, many organizations are allowing consumerization practices to influence business methodology and decision making. However, this single OS approach to app development should, categorically, not be followed by the enterprise.

Enterprise app development must take a very broad device approach. In the world of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) there is no guarantee what devices employees will show up to work with. In order to achieve the most return on your mobile investment you should aim to support the most number of users. The allure of the simplicity and controlled nature of devices’ homogeneity is a limited strategic approach. The popular device of today will be replaced by the next cool device of tomorrow. This will lead to a never-ending cycle of playing catch-up that will be cost prohibitive.

Enterprises need to anticipate supporting the vast array of ever-changing devices on the market. Combine BYOD with the notion of the Internet of Things, and enterprises have even stronger justification for a diverse mobile approach. Anything short of a heterogeneous approach to mobile devices, apps, data, and management will paint your mobile strategy into a digital corner where you will be stuck waiting for the paint to dry.

When it comes to mobile app development, how can businesses overcome and address an ever-expanding ecosystem of device proliferation? There are platforms available for developers that do a decent job of bridging the gap between the different mobile operating systems. Platforms such as PhoneGap, Appcelerator, and Sencha allow developers to write the application in a single language that then compiles to a native app. There are some drawbacks to this approach. As much as we love the development process to be write once, use many times, cross-platform development tools still require some tweaking per OS. However, these platforms will get you 95% of the way there.

Your device management strategy needs to be heterogeneous as well. While Samsung and the upcoming iOS 7 release will offer device management and enterprise services, a single platform approach to managing devices is a step in the wrong direction. This convenience of built-in services that are vendor-based is greatly outweighed by the need to have an enterprise mobility management strategy that is flexible for the future. Organizations would be better served to explore one of the many mobile management solutions available to support a wide variety of devices, have app management, and ultimately provide information management.

As hardware diversity increases, organizations need to not only display data on various devices, but also collect data from an ever-increasing range of devices. This could include IT infrastructure, manufacturing equipment, and even display cases. The cost of embedding Internet connectivity is approaching negligible. With this hurdle removed, the matrix of connected devices in an organization is only going to grow. Is your organization prepared for this sort of dynamic addition of mobility? Are you thinking A to Z or just Apple and Android?

The consumerization of IT does not have to mean that the enterprise takes every aspect of the consumer approach and translates it directly into a business strategy. Enterprises that approach BYOD as BY-iOS-D will find they have a left-out and frustrated user base alongside an inferior position for the future. Like tower defense games such as Plants vs. Zombies, organizations need a broad heterogeneous strategy to anticipate and manage the onslaught of mobility. The inability to predict new devices and methods of connectivity necessitates this approach. There is and will be no single dominant mobile end point. Why play like there is?

Benjamin Robbins is a co-founder at Palador, a mobile consultancy located in Seattle, WA. He can be followed on Twitter @PaladorBenjamin.

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Keynoting at Mastering SAP for Mobility in Melbourne Australia

I am excited to announce that I will be delivering the opening keynote, Monetizing Mobile – Mobile Strategy and Beyond, at the Mastering SAP for Mobility conference in Melbourne,  Australia September 19th 2013. Mastering SAP for Mobility features an international lineup of exciting speakers and mobile influencers discussing some of the most requested and challenging mobile topics of today. In addition to the opening keynote I will be leading one of the track sessions on the mobile app development cycle.

Check out the full agenda and register today to not miss out on this opportunity to hear from leaders in enterprise mobility as well as learn how to fully leverage mobility in your organization.

Here are the hot topics the conference will cover:

Creating the Mobility Strategy – the Business Case, the Project & Technology

Hear case studies of companies who have demonstrated cost comparison vs. cost benefitsUndertake a benefi t analysis – evaluating mobility as an investmentQuantifying the benefits and how it can be measured in dollarsTips and tricks to build a solid business case for investment into a Mobility strategyEnsure your mobility solutions fit into the Business & IT PlansConstantly align the business drivers with the solution – ensuring “Mobility drives business change”Implementing the best structures to drive the projectHear tried and tested approaches from successful companies already down the trackInvolving the projects, business roles and technology in the overall strategyEvaluate native, hybrid and HTML5 – what are their merits in meeting your business requirements?Hear from those who have chosen their vendors and consultants – how they evaluated their decision 

SAP Mobility & the Road Map

Understanding what SAP offers in the mobile space. How has the acquisition of Sybase and Syclo affected this and what is the roadmap for the future?What is SAP’s recommended deployment path and the costs and efforts involvedStandardised mobile asapps – what apps? What capability? What quality? Consumers used to a level of quality and interactivity, native vs. webThe development tools which are neededMaintenance across the SAP mobility landscape.

Effective Change Mgmt Strategies, Training & Support

Selling the system and gaining commitment and alignmentManagement buy-in generating top-down driveOvercoming fear of the system in the workforceBringing the business and IT closer together through an initiative that both are passionate aboutHow to handle changing a workforce that don’t (won’t) use smartphonesWho should support your mobility initiative, what skills are needed and how do you find them?Build a strategy to cope with the skills requirements and how to acquire themManaging the rapid training requirements of the changing technologySurviving the changing workforce issues of 24/7 availability and work/life balanceHow to support your mobility initiative, building the skills needed

Designing Your Native, Hybrid & HTML5 Mobile Apps

Understand which style of app makes sense for your organisation, the business case and your cheque bookEvaluating the various styles to build and develop a coherent mobile strategyEmbracing open source mobile technologiesHow SAP supports HTML5 frameworks like Sencha, Appcelerator and PhonegapBuilding into your team the skill sets necessary to produce and support these approaches 


Use SAP tools (SUP, Syclo, NetWeaver Gateway), 3rd party tools or custom developed tools for middleware between mobile application and back-end systemsOvercoming potential performance issues caused by having mobile apps talking to the back-end systemDealing with data synchronisation issues with modifications in the back-end system and by mobile applicationHow you integrate SAP mobile solutions with NFC/M2M/GIS technologiesHow to handle security of internal systems being accessed by external mobile applications

Security Management

Creating a robust security strategy, inclusive of safety, HR and privacy policies and connectivity issuesThe approaches for securing data and authenticating usersEnabling single sign on approvals across multiple appsReal examples from organisations who have overcome very sensitive information issuesConnecting back to your corporate network – the security layer you implement and still have ease of access

Communications Infrastructure & Device Management

An overview from case studies on the infrastructure hardware/software requiredUnderstanding what the investment in infrastructure could be – pricing and licensingManage the impact of the platform performance on device response/performanceExamining SAP offerings vs. partner offeringsThe impact of the Cloud 

Device Selection & Management

Device management – which tools are available – what you need to know about device compatibilityChoosing the right device(s) for corporate rolloutDevice Management software – hear what’s out there such as SAP Afaria (Sybase) and alternativesChange control for device software – change control applicationsManaging the issues around BYOD – what other companies have chosenSecurity issues arising from BYOD policies

Mobile Business Intelligence

Defining the value and purpose of mobile BI in the workplaceDeliver mobile experiences on SAP BW from simple no frill models to comprehensive mobile strategiesUnderstand the generic components of a mobile solutionSAP and 3rd party mobile BI technologiesExamining native, cross-platform native, hybrid and HTML5 application frameworks 


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Smartwatches are NOT the Next Big Thing

Yesterday Samsung and Qualcomm announced competing smartwatch products. This is the opening salvo of many announcements from companies such as Google, Microsoft, and purportedly Apple. Smartwatches, the latest next big thing, bring some of the capabilities we have grown to love in our smartphones and place them conveniently our wrist. But do smartwatches really deserve to be called the next big thing?

We are quickly moving into an age where the information we need access to will be displayed seamlessly on any number of devices. Some of these displays will be big, such as monitors and TVs. Some will be small, such as smartwatches and phones, and others in between. However, the end display will only be important to the point that it will dictate how a user can practically interact with the information that is being displayed. If done properly, the end device and its operating system should fade seamlessly into the background and be inconsequential to the user.

Years of PC dominance have conditioned us to think of computing as a self-contained entity. Our use-cases were limited to our proximity to the office. I could do computing as long as I was in the confines of my office. We crawled out of the water and onto dry land with the advent of laptops and the Internet but still needed to retreat to the PC to sustain us. In the mobile age, we have left the pond but still act and think like we are caught in the muck. We dabble with computing across simultaneous devices, but have yet to fully exploit it.

Ultimately, all these devices are just little windows into what we need, want, and should be interacting with. They provide the opportunity for a continuous computing experience. Any one device should be on hand at our convenience to fit the way we want to interact. We should treat them as disposable terminals that should bend to our needs rather than the only means possible to access and interact with the information we need.

This is where casting a single device type as the next big thing is the wrong perspective. The trouble with focusing on a single device, such as smartwatches, is that you end up isolating the use cases rather than envisioning how each fits into a bigger ecosystem. You treat each device like a PC rather than a part of an always accessible whole. It potentially loses the perspective of figuring out how the device can actually improve the lives of the end users, rather than just create another kitschy gadget that ultimately creates more headache than it’s worth.

The next big thing isn’t going to be a device, but the use-case scenarios that these connected devices, be they phones, watches, glasses, tablets, car dashboards, or flexible display, bring to bear by working in concert with other technologies. The industry as a whole would do better to focus on the bigger picture rather than the form of how the information is delivered.

Case in point — when the ground began to shift under the music industry’s feet thanks to digital file compression and the Internet, the industry doubled down on locking in the status quo experience. They were only capable of thinking of the end user experience in terms of broadcasting — mass distribution via radio stations and CDs. But the world was quickly moving away from broadcasting toward narrow casting, and ultimately to on-demand. The consumer continued making an end run around the industry despite its best efforts. Apple’s iTunes eventually capitalized on this trend by marrying technology with capability, thus paving the way for new forms of experience.

Forward thinking companies are doing the same in mobile that Apple did with music. They are developing use cases that will tie all of these display options together. They are thinking about the interaction between individuals and these devices. This is the Internet of things meets mobile, meets big data, meets cloud, meets contextual computing. To win it’s going to have to be one big seamless ecosystem in the end. We need to adopt a fresh perspective on how we can continually be connected to our computing needs. Calling out a device type at the next big thing sets us back.

A watch is just a paltry component of a much bigger shift in capability that will involve devices, connectivity, data, context, and cloud. Devices are a small part. Looking at the device as the next big thing is akin to thinking that a flat screen television somehow improves upon the quality of shows and content that are viewed on it. While the announcement of an additional wrist screen is great for news cycles, it must be placed into context of the bigger shift in computing that is happening around it. As the famous Zen saying goes, the finger pointing at the moon not the moon. We’d do well to separate the window from the bigger picture.

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