Mobile Enterprise: Free WiFi in Times Square, Yahoo Acquires Location-Based Mobile Services Vendor

4 minute read
Marisa Peacock avatar

This week the mobile enterprise offers acquisitions, perspectives on internet access and connectivity, and mobile management solutions.

Yahoo Acquires Koprol

Yahoo has been flexing its purse strings and acquisition skills lately. First Associated Content, now Koprol, an Indonesian company that specializes in location-based mobile services.

Koprol enables people with mobile phones to find and read reviews of local businesses, as well as see the location of others, what they are doing, and start or join discussions based on particular places. Consider it the foursquare of Southeast Asia.

Yahoo, says that Koprol will help to attract the growing number of people using their mobile phones for social networking and Web browsing. By leveraging Koprol’s aggregation of location databases, populated with information gathered through users, Yahoo aims to make its websites, applications, homepage, and media and communications products more locally relevant.

Koprol wasn’t Yahoo’s first choice, however. The company reportedly considered a US$ 100 million bid for a U.S. location-based mobile services company -- Foursquare.

Internet Access Lacks in Developing World

According to a report released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the number of Internet users has doubled between 2003 and 2009.  Approximately 26 percent of the world's population was online at the end of 2009, with the number of mobile subscribers likely to reach the 5 billion mark this year.

Despite growth, the world’s internet users woefully exclude those in developing (or under developed) countries, where only 12 percent of households had internet access. As well, the availability of fixed broadband in developing countries was far lower, at about 3.5 percent at the end of 2009, further demonstrating the need for more public internet access facilities in the developing world.

Access and connectivity weren’t the only issues addressed in the study. It also outlined a clear divide between content and languages. With over 50 percent of the content on the internet available in a few languages, mainly English, the world wide web is alienating more than half of users who speak languages written with non-Latin scripts.

AT&T Offers Free WiFi in Times Square

In other connectivity news, AT&T has announced recently that it will provide free Wi-Fi service to its subscribers in the New York City area.

Seen as an effort to explore WiFi as a potential mobile broadband option in areas that have high 3G traffic, the move may improve mobile management for those of us who work on the go. Using a high profile destination, such as Times Square, may win over subscribers -- new and current -- who have experienced less than stellar service via AT&T’s 3G network.

Learning Opportunities

Located on the north side of Times Square on Seventh Avenue between 45th and 47th Streets, the hot spot will provide free online access to any AT&T wireless and broadband customers using smartphones, laptops or other WiFi enabled devices in the area.

BoxTone Provides Valuable Mobile Management Tool

Speaking of mobile management, BoxTone has launched a system designed to give IT shops a single management view of all the devices and mobile networks within an enterprise.

Called Mobile Service Management (MSM), the product is obviously a response to the explosive growth of mobile devices in business settings. MSM is slated to sell for about US$ 35 per user, and can be run either on a data center server or in an enterprise cloud.

Already the Maryland-based company has more than 200 customers, including banks, using tools managing more than 500,000 mobile users. MSM not only shows an IT administrator what devices are deployed, it also indicates whether devices are experiencing problems, as well as pinpointing whether the problem is associated with a particular network operator.

Designed to detect any mobile device, including AppleiPhones and iPads, as well as BlackBerry, Nokia smartphones and phones running the Android operating system or the upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series operating system, BoxTone’s MSM can also evaluate mobile connectivity platforms, including the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, MicrosoftActiveSync and Good Technology Inc. systems, as well as custom enterprise mobile apps.

BoxTone is poised to be a great tool for companies wrestling with the challenge of managing its mobile workers while offering security and risk management solutions.