Once the king of business smartphones, the BlackBerry has seen better days. The company making the handset, Research in Motion (RIM), is struggling to compete with devices powered by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating system. The fight for the enterprise market is now between those two platforms – and for the moment, Apple is winning.
A report from Good Technology in April stated that 97.3 percent of tablet activations by its enterprise customers in the first quarter of 2012 were for iPads. Smartphone activations in the same report showed the same preference for Apple products, though not the same dominance: iPhones comprised 73.9 percent of all smartphone activations, while Android smartphones accounted for 26.1 percent.
Those numbers don’t provide a complete picture of market share, since they only include Good Technology’s customers and don’t even count BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices. What they do show is a clear preference for iOS, which has a closed ecosystem that makes it generally less vulnerable to malware, over Android.
Samsung, the top vendor of Android smartphones, is trying to reverse that trend by introducing a designation called SAFE, or Samsung Approved For Enterprise. It’s meant to assure IT managers that the phone is secure and will fit into a company’s IT infrastructure harmoniously. Samsung said in a press release that a SAFE phone includes “support for 338 IT Policies,” including Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and 256-bit AES encryption.
SAFE also attempts to address Android fragmentation, the phenomenon of multiple different versions of Android running on different devices. With SAFE branding, IT managers can look at a single specification and determine if a phone meets its requirements.
It’s not the first attempt to place a layer of standardization between fragmented Android phones and the uniformity-loving enterprise world. In December 2010, RSA introduced the RSA SecurID Software Token for Android, which enabled authentication of Android devices for enterprise applications and resources.
The Samsung Galaxy S III will be the first phone to bear the SAFE label. Do you think it will make significant inroads into the enterprise market?
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