LG, VMware to Offer Smartphone Solution for Enterprise-Home Balance

Smartphone maker LG and VMware plan to offer a solution that will enable LG phone owners to run a corporate e-mail account in isolation from their personal accounts.

Mobile phone maker LG Electronics and virtualization pioneer VMware are creating a partnership that they hope will make businesses more secure and employees happier - and enable LG to grab some enterprise market share.

Using end-user virtualization technology from VMware, the two will enable LG smartphones to securely host a corporate e-mail account separately from the user's personal accounts.

"With this feature, LG mobile users will be able to safely carry a single device for both personal and work use," the companies said in a joint statement Dec. 7. "Solutions using mobile virtualization technology from VMware are expected to be available on LG smartphones in 2011."

Ki S. Kim, vice president of global enterprise solutions at LG, added that enterprises and small and midsize businesses are "key areas of focus" for LG and that the partnership with VMware is part of the phone maker's strategy to develop smart mobile devices for business users.

"Enterprise IT organizations are looking for a way to embrace the growing trend of employee-owned mobile devices at work, while still maintaining control over their corporate data," Kim said in the statement. "VMware's industry leadership provides a platform for LG to extend its presence in enterprises and deliver compelling solutions that address the challenges raised by the convergence of IT and mobile communications."

Stephen Herrod, CTO of VMware, pointed to a common trend - that employees' personal devices tend to be more advanced than their corporate-sanctioned devices. "As a result, the agile enterprise is looking to embrace new end-user computing models that allow users to work on the devices they love," Herrod said.

In January, LG CEO and President Skott Ahn had announced plans for the company to sell 140 million units in 2010 and rise to a top 2 position by 2012 - a move that would mean unseating either top-ranking Nokia or No. 2 Samsung. During the third quarter, however, LG shipped 28.4 million units, a 10 percent decline year over year, while Samsung shipped 71.4 million units, posting year-on-year growth of 18.6 percent.

While the enterprise space has in recent years been the domain of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, a number of smartphone makers are taking note of opportunities beyond the consumer market.

The Nokia E73, which began shipping in June, features a Switch Mode that lets users shift between their work and home lives. The device supports Microsoft Mail for Exchange and Active Sync, as well as the ability to switch between cellular and WiFi calling.

More recently, and more literally looking to replace RIM, Texas PC maker Dell, a relative newcomer to the smartphone space, announced plans to transition its 25,000 employees from BlackBerry devices to Dell smartphones. In addition, Dell plans to begin marketing a service to help other businesses do the same. A likely candidate to replace the BlackBerry devices is the Dell Venue Pro, which runs Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 operating system and features a 4.1-inch multitouch display with a slide-out QWERTY keypad. The Venue Pro will begin shipping Dec. 9.

In the LG-VMware statement, Verizon Executive Director of New Technologies Humphrey Chen said the companies' new solution is something he's seeing a need for.

"We're seeing interest from Verizon Wireless customers in the area of mobile personas, which allow a personal mobile phone to be leveraged in a professional setting in a secure way that is IT-approved," Chen said.

He added that Verizon is evaluating ways to help customers achieve such virtualization capabilities as the newly outfitted LG smartphones will make possible.