Samsung SAFE Lets Android Into the Enterprise, Starting With Galaxy S III

The Samsung Galaxy S III will be Samsung's first SAFE-branded phone for the U.S. market. Standing for Samsung Approved for Enterprise, the standard addresses Android fragmentation and the security concerns of even regulated industries.

Samsung is taking steps toward infiltrating enterprises with the introduction of its Samsung Approved for Enterprise, or SAFE, devices in the United States. Its Galaxy S III smartphone, which by the end of July will be available from Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular, will join the Samsung Galaxy Note and other devices in featuring the technology.

The SAFE distinction emphasizes both security features and an ability for IT to address fragmentation€”a disharmony between the Android versions that€™s often cited as a failing of the platform.

€œSamsung created SAFE as a way to defragment the Android OS across multiple versions from Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich at U.S. carriers,€ Samsung said in a June 18 statement. €œOut of the box, the SAFE-branded Galaxy S III supports a full suite of enterprise-ready features and capabilities with support for 338 IT Policies.€

These policies include on-device 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption, support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and for virtual private network (VPN) and mobile-device-management (MDM) solutions.

The Galaxy S III €œsystematically defragments Android to provide a consistent level of IT compliance for individuals who demand the very best in both their personal and professional lives,€ Tim Wagner, Samsung Mobile€™s vice president and general manager of Enterprise Sales, said in the statement.

With longtime enterprise favorite Research In Motion struggling to maintain appeal, and the Apple iPhone and high-end Android phones chipping away at RIM€™s enterprise market share, the enterprise has become nearly as fair game as the consumer space. Samsung is quick to point out, though, that according to a September 2011 report from research firm IDC, Android is expected to be the No. 1 platform for enterprise smartphones by 2013.

While some enterprises remain nervous about bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, finding Android not safe enough to meet security standards, Samsung expects SAFE to address such concerns, announcing that it renders phones safe enough to be deployed even within regulated industries, such as health care, financial services and government.

Samsung introduced the Galaxy S III in London May 3. It features one of the industry€™s largest displays, a 4.8-inch high-definition Super AMOLED (active-matrix organic LED), but it weighs less than the iPhone 4S. It also packs a quad-core processor, Android Ice Cream Sandwich and six sensors that enable it to be hyper-aware to a user€™s needs and intentions.

€œYou speak, it listens. It turns off when you look away. €¦ it€™s resting, waiting for you to wake up,€ a Samsung executive told the audience at the packed event.

Since then, Samsung has been emphasizing the phone€™s considerable sharing features€”which play better to the U.S. market than the our-phone-is-watching-you angle, a Samsung spokesperson told eWEEK.

The sharing options are interesting and useful, though often only if friends also have a Galaxy S III, lowering the likelihood that a user will get to make much use of them. That spouses, or teenage best friends, would have the same phones and be able to use features like AllShare Play, have so far seemed the most likely. With the introduction of SAFE, however, it€™s easier to imagine the sharing features being useful among teams of users with corporate-deployed devices.

Colleagues could share presentations, documents or videos by tapping their phones, using AllShare Play, and MDM solutions can control the S Beam feature, which lets users share contact and meeting information. Even Samsung€™s NFC-based TecTile stickers, which will be sold by the five-pack for $15, could have plenty of enterprise uses. (Years ago, Nokia showed off an enterprise use for NFC, or near-field communication, that sticks in the mind: a night watchman, needing to log his route of securing doors around a building, could tap his phone to an NFC tag on a door, creating a record of visits and route.)

€œIt€™s now safe to say,€ said Samsung€™s Wagner, €œthat the €˜next big thing€™ in enterprise is here.€

EDITOR'S NOTE: While an earlier version of this article said the Samsung Galaxy S III was the first device to be explicitly branded and sold as a SAFE device, that distinction actually goes to the Samsung Galaxy Note.

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