The Citrix X1 Mouse is genius, a perfect solution to the challenge of how best to run mouse dependent Windows apps on touch dependent iOS devices. Faced with the dichotomy of an operating system without mouse support, and a user experience that demands it, Citrix has developed a custom mouse that ignores Apple’s restrictions and interfaces not with iOS, but directly connects to the Citrix Receiver and from there on to the remote Windows host. The end result is a user experience almost indistinguishable from running Windows on a conventional laptop. If that is not enough, when used in conjunction with a Bluetooth keyboard, it even takes the cool but unworkable idea of using an iPhone plugged in to a hotel room TV as thin-client replacement and makes it real.
Customer response has been very enthusiastic, with some Citrix customers reporting that it is enabling them to consider supporting iPads as PC replacements. In a blog post announcing the the availability for the X1 Mouse, Chris Fleck said
“large IT organizations predict a 10X increase in XenApp mobile usage once they implement the X1 Mouse.” – Chris Fleck
Every iPad and iPhone owning Citrix customer should go out and buy one today.
The X1 Mouse is more than just an excellent idea, it’s also a wonderful example of the gift that Citrix has for vision and innovation — turning to hardware to solve the tablet’s biggest user experience shortcoming is not the kind of move I could ever imagine VMware making. But click on that link and you would be forgiven if you start to think that maybe those guys at Elliott Management might actually have a clue about what ails Citrix.
“Citrix’s sales & marketing organization is operating well below industry benchmarks on efficiency and effectiveness, with the weakest metrics among its peers. This is primarily the result of a highly cumbersome and ineffective go-to-market strategy. ” – Elliot Management 
In statement published in advance of the 2015 Citrix Synergy conference, Citrix CEO Mark Templeton reported on how consumerization is rapidly redefining enterprise IT.
“The reality is that the ever-changing consumer marketplace has come to define the technologies that people want to use at work – and rightfully so, since they offer significant enhancements to productivity and efficiency.” – Mark Templeton
Consumerization has been central to Citrix’s strategy ever since its acquisition in Expercity in 2003 which went on to become Citrix Online and which Eilliott Management is so keen to be rid of. It was the consumerization of IT that led by individual employees bring their own smartphones and tablets into the office and and in so doing kick started the Enterprise Mobility Management industry, which in turn spurred Citrix’s 2012 Zenprise acquisition (now XenMobile). Yet for all its obvious commitment to consumerization Citrix has decided that the X1 Mouse is not for consumers. Even though Citrix VP of the Emerging Solutions, Chris Fleck says “This does not signal Citrix’s entry into the Mouse business,” the only place you can buy the X1 Mouse is from a Citrix Solution Advisor or through the Citrix Store. Neither path comes close to the low friction “Buy it Now” experience that lubricates the consumer marketplace. The Citrix Store might the the right venue if you a looking for a few hundred XenApp licenses, but this is a mouse, why not just put it on Amazon and have done with it? For that matter, why not cut to the chase and include a “Buy it Now” button in the Citrix Receiver. Citrix must also review the pricing of the X1 Mouse. At $60 it’s up in the premium mouse price bracket, but with a distinctly non-premium appearance and a paltry 90 day warranty. Citrix has not ruled out the possibility of licensing the technology to h/w vendors in the future, a move which could go a long way to lowering costs and improving the warranty period.
Most importantly, Citrix has to decide why it is offering this mouse. Is it just a cool toy, something that might add a few million to the balance sheet, a marketing gimmick, or is it a serious bid to elevate Citrix’s business value beyond anything offered by it’s software only competitors. With the right marketing Citrix could well see its business customers demanding that IT buy XenApp just for the improvement in user experience the X1 Mouse offers. Which highlights potentially the most important value that the X1 Mouse expresses — the Citrix envisioned by Elliott Management could never have delivered the X1 Mouse. Which is better for Citrix shareholders, a pillaging run that would cripple the company’s growth potential, or a bit of selective pruning that allows innovations like this to thrive.