Android has most of the worldwide consumer smartphone market, but hasn’t made a much of a dent in enterprise mobility. That might be about to change.
Android climbed to own 79% of the global smartphone market by the end of 2013, but meanwhile, Apple controls a full 73% of enterprise markets. This disparity highlights Android’s great enterprise weakness.
There are several reasons many corporations choose Apple iOS devices over Android, chief of which is security. Android’s open-source model is much of what makes it popular with some consumers, but it is also a cause for concern with many a CIO. Although many people would consider Apple’s control of iOS too strict, that is something that is largely attractive to a company that values privacy and security.
Android is also more popular with the developers of applications that contain malware due to the cheap, one time, $25 charge to get a developers license. Apple’s multi tiered developers program starts out at $99 per year and scares away much of the less desirables in the developers community.
Aside from security, it is a lot harder to create business policies and procedures surrounding Android devices, since there is so much software and hardware diversity for Android. It’s a lot easier to create policies and procedures around one software and form factor, to test a new system on only one type of device, and write only one set of directions for mobile users.
Enterprise app development is also easier with an iOS only environment. One corporate app can work for any iPhone or iPad, whereas it takes a little more work to enable an app to work on the spread of Android devices out there. Not to mention the fact that iOS generally has better app support for consumers as well. It only makes sense that businesses would lean that direction when making mobile decisions.
Fortunately, Google isn’t content with letting Apple own enterprise and a new report suggests they will be correcting many of their enterprise wrongs by making the next version of Android more business friendly.
Samsung has already led the charge on this with Samsung SAFE and Samsung KNOX, improving Android security enough to even lure a few government contracts. The Samsung features are an exclusive to them, though, and although they are the biggest name in Android, the platform would benefit from natively improved security and enterprise management features direct from Google.
Google recently encrypted Gmail traffic, the service has begun using HTTPS connections for sending and receiving mail. More integration of security features such as that will go a long way towards making Android more acceptable in the enterprise.
Storage management is also not very secure with Android, which is part of the reason Google is leading the charge away from SD cards. Hopefully we will see steps to encrypt local storage. Although Google’s Nexus line doesn’t support SD cards, they may need a solution to protect/encrypt the card for devices that do, although that would be a concession on their part.
Google could also improve functionality with corporate Mobile Device Management solutions such as Mobile Iron, Tangoe, or VMware. The launch of Android Device Manager last year was a good foot in the door for these services, but it will need to be expanded drastically to be considered by CIO looking to use Android in business.
With BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programs becoming more and more popular in business, the call for Google to enable businesses to allow employees to use their personal Android devices for work is getting louder. There’s a lot that Google is expected to do at the next Google I/O, but any improvements for those that want to use Android in business will be well met.