INSIDE MOBILE: Why Remote Access Technical Support is Important for Smartphones and Tablets

By J. Gerry Purdy  |  Posted 2011-02-15

INSIDE MOBILE: Why Remote Access Technical Support is Important for Smartphones and Tablets

Most people in North America and Europe are buying smartphones and tablets that have rich operating systems, application stores and the ability to run tens, if not hundreds, of applications. The entire smartphone environment has exploded with user-generated photos, multiple applications running at the same time, and synchronization with desktop or corporate servers. The smartphone and tablet environments are getting to be as complex as PC and Mac environments and will require technical support that is just as good as that provided for PCs and Macs.

After all, sometimes things are not working and you don't really know what to do. You call the operator and they give you advice based on prior calls. If you call the hardware or application provider, they can't do much better. Calls to these smartphone and tablet technical support centers are rising exponentially. The problem is only going to get worse and much more costly for operators, device makers and enterprises.

Wouldn't it be great if a company developed remote control services for smartphones that's similar to what's available today for PCs and Macs? Such software would allow technical support to remotely see your smartphone or tablet display and let the technical support representative remotely control your smartphone or tablet.

W2bi, a young company based in New Jersey, has a software tool called AetherPal. AetherPal solves this exact problem, providing remote access and control for a number of smartphone and tablet systems. Here's how AetherPal works.

AetherPals Remote Control Technical Support Service

AetherPal's remote control technical support service

When the customer calls for technical support to a call center using AetherPal, the AetherPal server generates a security code that is verbally communicated by the technical support representative to the customer. The customer then enters the security code into the AetherPal application on their smartphone. AetherPal remote access is then activated and allows the technical support representative to see the user's screen and remotely control the user's smartphone or tablet (just like what can be done on the PC).

The technical support representative can verify the issue and then make changes that will fix the problem. At the end of the call, the user is instructed to exit the remote control application, which automatically uninstalls itself from the user's smartphone or tablet.

Using AetherPal is like having a technical support representative fly to your house or office and sit down and take control of your smartphone or tablet. Most of the time, they have seen your problem before, but if not, all of the technical support operations have sophisticated databases that can be searched to see if the problem has been entered by someone before-and what was done to fix the problem.

AetherPal helps the operator, device maker, commercial developer and enterprise IT organization control the escalating costs of smartphone and tablet support while also improving their support to a client and user base (that has become more knowledgeable and demanding as they try new things).

W2bi (AetherPal's parent organization) has been working with leading device manufacturers, enterprise IT organizations and networks operators for the past 15 years to provide wireless device certification and network testing. As a result, AetherPal is well-positioned to provide valuable, state-of-the-art remote control services to its customers.

AetherPals Early Deployments and Results

AetherPal's early deployments and results

A number of wireless operators and enterprise organizations are deploying AetherPal in their own technical support environments-or are having AetherPal deployed in the third-party contractor that provides technical support services for the operator or enterprise. The results of the AetherPal system in early deployments are very encouraging. AetherPal has been able to demonstrate:

-An average of 35 percent reduction in the time it takes to resolve smartphone issues.

-Increased first-call resolution rates, resulting in 25 percent fewer callbacks.

-50 percent decrease in device returns from users, greatly reducing overall service costs.

-More rapid training of technical support representatives, making the job more satisfying which, in turn, has reduced the support staff turnover rate. 

-Quicker adoption and utilization of new mobile applications in the enterprise, allowing for increased productivity of mobility in the organization.

-98 percent overall customer satisfaction with their technical support services.

-Technicians who are able to speak more intelligently about more difficult technical issues and are able to handle support and service tasks more effectively.

Because AetherPal has the ability to support PCs as well as smartphones and tablets, AetherPal can become a one-stop-shop to support all of a customer's mobile assets-including smartphones, laptops, netbooks, tablets and desktops. AetherPal can also provide support across multiple operating systems, device types, operators and language environments-providing a complete solution for the customer.


It's great to see advanced technical support services brought into the mobile sector. Handset manufacturers, application developers, enterprise IT operations and wireless operators are all going to benefit from companies such as w2bi. Technical support for mobile devices is a big problem area and I expect to see a number of companies offer similar remote control services.

It's up to w2bi to take their current lead in the market and continue to advance their services platform as the demand for smartphones and tablet remote control services continues to grow.

J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D. is Principal Analyst of Mobile & Wireless at MobileTrax LLC. As a nationally recognized industry authority, Dr. Purdy focuses on monitoring and analyzing emerging trends, technologies and market behavior in the mobile computing and wireless data communications industry in North America. Dr. Purdy is an "edge of network" analyst looking at devices, applications and services, as well as wireless connectivity to those devices. Dr. Purdy provides critical insights regarding mobile and wireless devices, wireless data communications and connection to the infrastructure that powers the data in the wireless handheld. He is author of the column Inside Mobile & Wireless that provides industry insights and is read by over 100,000 people a month.

Dr. Purdy continues to be affiliated with the venture capital industry as well. He currently is Managing Director at Yosemite Ventures. And he spent five years as a Venture Advisor for Diamondhead Ventures in Menlo Park where he identified, attracted and recommended investments in emerging companies in mobile and wireless. He has had a prior affiliation with East Peak Advisors and, subsequently, following their acquisition, with FBR Capital Markets. For more than 16 years, Dr. Purdy has been consulting, speaking, researching, networking, writing and developing state-of-the-art concepts that challenge people's mind-sets, as well as developing new ways of thinking and forecasting in the mobile computing and wireless data arenas. Often quoted, Dr. Purdy's ideas and opinions are followed closely by thought leaders in the mobile and wireless industry. He is author of three books as well.

Dr. Purdy currently is a member of the Program Advisory Board of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) which produces CES, one of the largest trade shows in the world. He is a frequent moderator at CTIA conferences and GSM Mobile World Congress. He also is a member of the Board of the Atlanta Wireless Technology Forum. Dr. Purdy has a B.S. degree in Engineering Physics from University of Tennessee, a M.S. degree in Computer Science from UCLA, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Exercise Physiology from Stanford University. He can be reached at

Disclosure Statement: From time to time, I may have a direct or indirect equity position in a company that is mentioned in this column. If that situation happens, then I'll disclose it at that time. 

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