In an era of so-called BYOD (bring your own device) practices, in which employees bring their personal phones and tablets to the office, enterprises weigh the benefits of iOS and Android.
It's no secret that Apple is racking up customers in the
enterprise market, attracting more corporate users whose companies have reluctantly
acceded to their employees' desire to bring their iPhones and iPads to the
office to use for both work and play.
Research from mobile device management (MDM) software
maker Good Technology suggests Apple iOS devices are trouncing Google's Android
operating system in business adoption. iPhones and iPads accounted for more
than 70 percent of all activations in the fourth quarter 2011, with Android
accounting for roughly the remainder.
It's true that Apple beat Google Android devices to
market with both its iPhone and its iPad. But a bigger reason for Apple's
enterprise lead is that Android's open-source heritage often serves as a yellow
lightand sometimes even a red lightto enterprises weighing
mobile device choices for employees.
In an era of so-called BYOD (bring your own device)
practices, in which employees bring their personal phones and tablets to the
office, enterprises tend to give iOS the nod. Apple takes a more assertive role
in governing what applications can run on its devices. Conversely, Google's
Android Market has been something of a Wild West, where submissions from apps
developers are not as closely monitored or managed. Moreover, Apple's App Store
has many more applications targeted for business users than the Android Market
Matt Self, vice president of platform engineering for
cloud storage specialist Box, said it is currently challenging for enterprises
to make full use of Android devices because of the dearth of business-ready
"There aren't as many tools available yet [as there
are for iOS]," said Self, whose company makes collaboration and storage
apps for both iOS and Android devices. Self said apps such as Box for Android
are going to help IT departments make use of all the devices their employees
are bringing in.
Android's application paucity was compounded by the fact that
Apple also offered more key security controls before Android did, including
remote wipe, lock and device encryption. And it didn't help Google that it
forked its smartphone and tablet branches into two code branches when it
launched Android 3.0 Honeycomb for tablets last year.
Yet increased securityalong with the unification of
smartphone and tablet code in the latest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) softwarehas
made Android more attractive to IT managers looking to embrace the open-source
Don Grons, vice president of technology for Mission
Critical Wireless, which provides implementation support for enterprise device
management software makers such as Good Technology and Mobile Iron, said what
Google has done with ICS will comfort some IT managers who were previously wary
of the platform's security.
For example, he noted that while previous versions of the
software lacked support for VPNs, ICS features a VPN client API. This allows
developers to write or extend existing VPN solutions on the platform,
leveraging secure credential storage. ICS also makes it easier for applications
to manage authentication and secure sessions, thanks to a new keychain API and
Grons thinks the crucial component of ICS is integrated
smartphone and tablet support. "Security plays a big part, but what I
think is most important about Ice Cream Sandwich is that it brings the tablet
and smartphone communities together operating on the same version of
code," he told eWEEK
. "If both your smartphone of choice
and tablet of choice run the same OS, you can administer the same policies and
perform some of the same functions ¦ it helps to promote more widespread
adoption into the market."
That's the theory, anyway. As of this writing, ICS is available
only on Samsung's Galaxy Nexus smartphone, Motorola's Xoom WiFi tablet and some
lesser known devices. Samsung, Motorola, LG, Sony, HTC and others all plan to
upgrade their existing mobile devices to ICS this year. It's hard to say
exactly what the adoption of ICS devices in the enterprise will be like at this