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Two distinct classes of opportunities are emerging in the mobile computing space for solution providers. The first is a more difficult, mature market in which solution providers compete fiercely on price for everything from mobile computing devices to the hardware that connects those devices to the internet and corporate networks. The second is a more application-centric approach that increasingly is fueled by numerous digital business initiatives.

In the latter scenario, the first tangible outcome of a digital business initiative often is a new set of mobile applications. For example, rather than simply focusing on connectivity to access email, solution providers are developing custom mobile applications with the hope of developing deeper relationships with customers.

In fact, more mobile applications than ever are being deployed as part of efforts to transform entire vertical industry segments, said Jack Gold, principal analyst for J. Gold Associates. “The first step always involves mobility,” he said.

These new mobile applications aimed specifically at business processes are driving some vendors to rethink how they segment the overall market. Aerohive Networks, for example, has launched Aerohive Connect, which offers wireless access points managed via the cloud for $229 per access point. The offering makes it possible for the company to compete more effectively against rivals at a lower price point and address more robust use cases involving digital business applications with its higher-cost Aerohive Select, said Michael O’Brien, the company’s vice president of global channels.

“Our partners tell us we’ve lost deals over pricing,” said O’Brien. “This approach will make it easier for them to build a farm team of customers they can later upsell.”

Solution providers must determine how deeply they want to pursue mobile opportunities, as there’s not much money to be made reselling mobile devices along with internet access. Because of that, some solution providers, such as Accent Computer Solutions, now resell network hardware that customers can either purchase or subscribe to as a managed service.

With the service approach, the solution provider owns everything, from the mobile endpoint to the wireless network. That enables the solution provider to ensure the quality of the mobile computing experience being delivered, said Kenny Riedell, director of professional services for Accent Computer Solutions.

That managed service, said Riedell, is anchored around a management platform Xirrus, a provider of wireless network hardware, created for its MSP partners. As customers find themselves using mobile applications and devices to access a broad range of back-end services, demand is rising, he said. “Wireless networks are now mission-critical,” he added.