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Ivy Schmerken
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Financial Firms Support iPod, iPad and Android

With the iPhone and iPad winning the popularity contest among consumers, while BlackBerry stumbles, financial services executives are apt to support multiple devices.

As consumers continue to buy iPhones and iPads in record numbers, Wall Street firms are developing apps that run on consumers' preferred choice of smartphones and tablets. Of course the Apple iPhone and iPad are at the top of the list, but so is Google's Android.

Apple grabbed headlines last week when it reported that profits doubled and revenue increased 82 percent in the fiscal third quarter. The results were all the more spectacular since Apple didn't announce any new iPhone products for the quarter.

Apple's stellar results prompted one expert to tell Bloomberg News that "Apple is in its own asset class." Based on its market capitalization of its stock, Apple is the most valuable technology stock worth $350 billion -- which is more than 10 times Dell's and 5 times Hewlett Packard's, according to a New York Times article.

Despite the stellar earnings reported by Apple last week for its fiscal third quarter, financial services firms cannot ignore other brands and must support multiple devices, according to industry executives and analysts.

Even as financial services firms are seeing their customers rapidly take up the iPhone and iPad, they are also developing mobile trading and investment apps- particularly Google's Android, an open OS which runs on multiple devices.

"iPhone was out first, but Android is surpassing it," comments Brad Strothkamp. VP& Principal Analyst, at Forrest Research, who follows mobile banking and investing trends in financial services. Strothkamp says comparing the iPhone to Android is like comparing the Apple operating system to Windows. While the Mac OS runs on Apple PCs, Windows is available on many more devices, he notes.

Leading retail brokers such as TD Ameritrade and Fidelity Investments are offering their customers apps on the iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

According to Strothkamp financial services firms are going to have to cover all the major device brands. "They need to have Android and Blackberry and the iPhone and so the Apple OS," says Forrester's analyst. "And I think they will do the same for the tablet OSs," he says.

Fidelity Investments is following the preferences of its customers, but it's not picking any favorites. "With the retail investor, we were very keen that we have a device agnostic environment," says Joseph Ferra, Chief Wireless Officer for Fidelity Personal Investing.

"Recognizing that it's not a one device world, we strive to manage our wireless services so that all customers get a good experience, not just a specific customers with a specific device," he says.

But one device that Wall Street investors seem wary of is the BlackBerry from Research & Motion. The company said on Monday that it planned to lay off 2,000 employees or 10.5 percent of its workforce as it struggles from the declining popularity of its BlackBerry device. Also, RIM has stumbled with its entry into the computer tablet market where the BlackBerryPlaybook, released in the spring, has met with a disappointing reception, partly due to its lack of email. Today's New York Times calls this "a puzzling omission" since the BlackBerry was the first wireless email device. BlackBerry's future is now hoisted to a new line of phone based around a new operating system, known as QNX.

According to a Reuters story, posted on WST's site today, Wall Street and Silicon Valley have written off RIM, while Canadian analysts are giving their national company more time.

In both the smartphone and tablet computer markets, the momentum belongs to Apple, which edges ever closer to the title of world's most valuable stock, and Google, its Android software embraced by an army of device makers.

No doubt, financial services executives who are responsible for their firms' mobile strategies are watching these developments closely.

Ivy is Editor-at-Large for Advanced Trading and Wall Street & Technology. Ivy is responsible for writing in-depth feature articles, daily blogs and news articles with a focus on automated trading in the capital markets. As an industry expert, Ivy has reported on a myriad ... View Full Bio
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