Open the office to Android

Feb 25 2014, 13:38 IST
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SummaryMany players are trying to make Google’s OS more enterprise friendly

For many years now, there has been a buzz around the BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device. However, the biggest stumbling block for seeing more private smartphones and tablets being used in the office environment is the fact that most of these devices are now running the Android operating system that is more open to vulnerabilities.

Globally, about 80% of all smartphones sold last year were Android devices. It is not that Android devices are unsafe, but the fact that Google’s operating system is open and lets anyone upload apps to its store makes those using it more susceptible to threats. So the decline of BlackBerry, undoubtedly the leader in the enterprise mobility space, has not lead to the growth of other big enterprise players. Many companies around the world have moved to Apple’s iOS and Microsoft’s Windows Phone platforms, letting employees use these devices to access enterprise content like they would have done with a BlackBerry. But this is still a small chunk of devices as IT managers still don’t have the confidence to do the same with Android devices.

So for the past couple of years there have been attempts to create solutions that will give companies the confidence to let Android devices into their secure systems. The biggest push undoubtedly came from Samsung last year when it announced the creation of Knox. Samsung is also the largest player in Android with about half the devices carrying its branding. Knox is an end-to-end package of security services that spread from the hardware to the application layer. It also has a BlackBerry Balance-like secure “application container” that keeps the enterprise applications away from private apps.

However, a year on, it seems Samsung has still not been able to get many companies to sign up. Samsung India’s enterprise business head Sameer Garde recently told me that customers were showing interest because many employees were bringing in their own Android devices and they had to make this switch-over safer for all the stakeholders. But I did not get the impression that any company had switched over yet, at least not in India. But once they do, Samsung would like to see a big share of that market given that it has an end-to-end solution in Knox and can offer devices in form factors and price points.

The other big player emerging in the space is Lenovo, which recently acquired Google’s Motorola Mobility handset business. Motorola

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