The race for mobile enterprise customers is never ending. The current situation is pretty clear: Apple’s iOS is more in charge than ever, but Android is showing signs of doing the work necessary to become a more serious player.
According to Good Technology’s Mobile Index Report, iOS’s share of global activations grew from 69 percent to 73 percent during the fourth quarter of 2014, while Android dropped from 29 percent to an even quarter of activations. The story at Venture Beat says that Apple enjoyed its second straight quarter of enterprise growth, after an unspecified number of shrinking quarters.
One way to look at this, obviously, is that iOS is ahead and is padding its lead. There are signs, though, that Google and its Android OS, which of course represent massive percentages of the market, are getting serious. And, once a massive ocean liner turns around, it can swamp just about anything that gets in its way.
In January, I wrote about research from AppFigures on the growth of various application types in app stores. Enterprise apps were the fastest growing category for iOS last year, something that the Good numbers tend to verify. Enterprise apps weren’t the top flavor of the quarter for Android. In fact, they only were fourth. But the spread from first to fifth was pretty narrow. Regardless of not scoring a win, place or show finish, Android’s enterprise apps increased by about 225 percent.
Google clearly is taking the business category more seriously. In late February, the company introduced Android for Work. Redmond Magazine describes it as a mobile device management (MDM) platform for Android and “a partner program for Google’s hardware and software vendor partners.” The AFW platform consists of security features, AFW apps, Google Play for Work (and an accompanying management platform), and support for Microsoft Exchange and IBM Notes.
The bottom line is that Google is making a serious and concerted play for the enterprise, though some experts, such as Bob Egan, writing at Forbes, express some reservations.
This week, Google fleshed out the concept a bit. Android Authority’s Jimmy Westenberg reported that the Android 5.1 software developments kit for Lollipop has been released. He says that the SDK supports multiple SIM cards and AFW. In other words, Android devices using this version of Lollipop can use AFW.
Google, through currently existing dedicated enterprise apps and the massive and growing universe of bring you own device (BYOD) smartphones and tablets, is a player in the enterprise. The challenge to Google and its partners is to create a framework in which the operating system becomes more trusted by IT and C-level executives. This could make Android a favored OS, rather than one that is tolerated by necessity.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.