Even though its U.S. smartphone market share is shriveling, Research In Motion still commands the bulk of the enterprise mobile handset market.
The problem is that while RIM has spent a decade grooming corporations to get BlackBerrys into the hands of corporate road warriors, Apple iPhone and Google Android handsets are popping up like mushrooms all over the workforce.
This consumerization of IT has increased the need for companies to address age-old security concerns that RIM had mitigated with its BlackBerry Enterprise Server and other tools for locking down enterprise data.
While the pressing need to secure iPhone and Android gadgets, including tablets, is boosting the market for Sybase, Good Technology and Zenprise, it’s also opening the door for new entrants.
Enter Enterproid, whose value proposition is letting users create and keep personal and professional profiles on one smartphone or tablet.
The startup launched its Divide IT mobile management platform, which includes business-oriented e-mail, calendar, browser, SMS and task manager to support Android gadgets, but will expand to iOS and Microsoft Windows Phone platforms in the future.
Of course, splitting work and personal profiles on one smartphone has been done before, industry analyst Jack Gold told eWEEK.
“This is really the ‘Holy Grail’ of user-liable devices in the enterprise-making a ‘lock box’ for enterprise data on the device. Others have done similar things [e.g., Sybase, TrustDigital and Good] by building a unique and independent corporate suite that resides in a ‘sandboxed’ environment,” Gold said.
Enterproid said that instead of providing simply a virtualized software tool, it has built Divide to function at the application layer.
“We’ve done this because, in our tests, virtualization (and by this we mean splitting the kernel and running two versions of the OS side by side) is incredibly resource-intensive (especially when it comes to things like battery drain) and introduces issues when it comes to handling things like incoming calls (in which case you’d have two OSes fighting over who answers the call),” the company told eWEEK.
Companies and individuals download Divide to any Android 2.2 or greater device to begin using the platform in minutes. Building Divide at the app layer afforded Enterproid flexibility it wouldn’t have by securing partnerships with device makers, such as Apple.
IT managers can enforce policies and manage encryption, device location and remote wipe, while end users can manage apps and settings, as well as device location and remote wipe. Finally, Divide is managed in the cloud, so that businesses needn’t purchase new servers to run the platform.
Ultimately, Gold said what is really needed to lock up devices that workers use for business is a virtualized platform that has stove-piped implementations for the enterprise and personal side. He noted that OK Labs, which produces a virtual machine capability for various devices, is what’s needed.
OK Labs, Sybase, Good, Zenprise and dozens more dot the mobile enterprise management landscape.
Will Enterproid thrive in a crowded market? It’s way too early to say, though the company did win a sort of best-in-show prize at Demo 2011 Feb. 28, taking home $150,000 in Qualcomm Ventures’ QPrize venture investment competition. The key will be landing big contracts.