SAP's mobile strategy involves developing business apps for specific platforms such as Google Android and Apple iPhone. The company remains close-lipped about its Sybase acquisition.
Following SAP's acquisition of mobile-technology provider
Sybase, some have been wondering how the deal is going to
affect the company's mobile strategy going forward. While SAP executives are
remaining close-lipped about the deal itself, and their intentions with
Sybase's assets, at least one was willing to talk to eWEEK about SAP's mobile
philosophy with regard to burgeoning platforms such as Google Android and the
"In the past 18 months, what we've been noticing is that
device-specific experiences are the ones getting huge amounts of adoption,"
George Mathew, SAP's general vice president and general manager for Business
Intelligence & In-Memory Analytics, said during a July 22 interview with
eWEEK. "There is a real compelling strategy for us to create a minimum baseline
for how BI content is more actively shared between devices; that's the starting
point for creating device-specific experiences."
$5.8 billion acquisition of Sybase, announced May 12
, was widely regarded
as the start of a major shift in the enterprise-software landscape. In addition
to allowing SAP to stay competitive with Oracle via new revenue streams, it
also opened the door for the company to consolidate and expand its mobile offerings
via Sybase's mobile technology.
"On first glance, this is clearly a strength-to-weakness
deal. SAP's annual sales and its market cap are both [more than 10] times the
size of Sybase's," Pund-IT Research analyst Charles King wrote in a May 13 research
note. "While SAP develops and delivers a wide range of enterprise business
software solutions, Sybase's offerings are skewed towards the global mobile
The deal also marked the largest acquisition for SAP since
its $6.7 billion purchase of business intelligence software producer
BusinessObjects in 2008. Sybase had been an SAP strategic partner prior to the
deal. When creating previous applications for BlackBerry, SAP had previously
layered functionality atop a Sybase platform; if and when the acquisition is
completed, Mathew suggested, functionality and platform will be consolidated
under one roof.
Mathew has noted a number of businesses incorporating both
the iPhone and the iPad into their IT mobile infrastructure; to capitalize on
that, SAP created a BusinessObjects Explorer for the iPhone, which Mathew
claims had 80,000 downloads since its release. "We're seeing an uptick for the
iPad optimized version," he said. "Now that we're seeing adoption of Android
devices into the enterprise, we're going to be looking at a similar
When asked about the upcoming Windows Phone 7, though,
Mathew seemed to take more of a wait-and-see approach. "It's the same way I
felt about Android last year," he said. "I knew there were compelling reasons
why it would make sense to invest in Android, but I was holding until there was
reasonable momentum. Once there's factual evidence about the market, then
you're able to move quickly."
Even for larger companies such as SAP, then, it seems to
come down to careful use of developer resources. "It's not a question of how
quickly you can build a mobile app," Mathew said, "it's about being judicious
about where you make your investments. I'd rather make the ones for