SAP, a devices company? Maybe, maybe not

SAP's patent application for a foldable device is more likely a competitive hedge than the precursor to a hardware play, one analyst says

SAP has filed a patent application describing a "foldable information worker mobile device" that combines a phone, laptop and tablet in one unit.

SAP has filed a patent application describing a "foldable information worker mobile device" that combines a phone, laptop and tablet in one unit.

While SAP has made a big push into mobile software and device management with the acquisition of Sybase and a series of apps, it hasn't made overt moves into the devices market. But this could change down the road, judging from a recently published patent application submitted by SAP.

The application, which was published late last month, describes a "foldable information worker mobile device" which can be reconfigured to work as a tablet, laptop, phone, e-reader and other device types as an employee moves through a series of tasks.

Beyond the obvious advantage of combining multiple devices into one unit, it could improve software compatibility, lower data synchronization requirements and cut users' "cognitive burden," according to the application.

An SAP spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the application, which was first flagged by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

It's not difficult to imagine how such a device would fit into SAP's mobile strategy, a key piece of which is Fiori, a large and growing set of lightweight mobile applications that tap data and processes from its flagship Business Suite software.

SAP has also been keen to change the public's perception of it as a vendor of large, complex back-end software packages. Earlier this year, it unveiled a new marketing tag line, "Run Simple," and the first in a series of simplified versions of Business Suite modules.

However, while SAP has close relationships with hardware companies such as Intel, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, particularly with respect to systems that run its Hana in-memory database platform, it has shied away from selling hardware itself, whether through direct or contract manufacturing.

Therefore, SAP watchers would be wise to temper their expectations, according to one observer.

"I'd say that it's one of those patents you file when you see that the future of work will evolve in a certain way and you can use it as part of your patent portfolio," said analyst Ray Wang, chairman and founder of Constellation Research. "If we see them build out a hardware ecosystem for their software, they could potentially have a Foxconn build these for themselves. However, it's a bit far-fetched. It's a good defensive patent though."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobiletabletssoftwareSAPtelecommunicationhardware systemslaptopsMobile OSes

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Kanaracus

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?