So it seems that this year’s hot technology gadget is the Kindle Fire. Although it seems to be dredging the ranks of potential customers for other devices such as the Apple iPad, the Amazon tablet is selling well enough, and with a software update expected to be released between now and Christmas, the big question for IT is: “How do we support these things?”
For now, the safe answer is “we don’t.” That’s because until this morning, there were exactly zero companies offering mobile device management tools for the Fire. That’s going to change soon, and it looks like Fiberlink will be the first MDM vendor to announce its plans for the platform, although it’s not clear yet when the company’s MaaS360 cloud-based service will be able to cope with the Fire.
But it’s not as if the Fire or its users are likely to require IT to do new and different things, even though the Android-powered device is bridging the gap between iPad-like tablets and the simple e-readers that made Kindle a household brand. The paradigm that’s sprung up over the last few years of “bring your own device” has led to savvy IT departments abandoning the all-or-nothing management tools of the desktop era for more sophisticated suites that can secure corporate data while respecting the user’s ownership of the remainder of the device.
Such abilities are now required for any MDM product worthy of the name; there’s no putting the toothpaste back in the tube now. When senior managers come back from their holidays with their new gadgets, it’s now taken for granted that IT will make these devices work. The good news is that MDM vendors such as Fiberlink, having done the heavy work of building up their back ends, are finding it easier than ever before to add new devices such as the Fire to their support lineup. In 2010, people could afford to wait for their MDM tools to come up to speed; thankfully, we’ve seen this window of vulnerability narrow from months to weeks in only a year’s time.
I’m going to spend some time over the next couple of weeks with the Kindle Fire in any event; I don’t expect any major revelations or breakthroughs, but if anything interesting comes of my noodling, I’ll be writing about it here.