How Google Could Top RIM In The Mobile Enterprise Market


The Android platform continues to thrive with over 1 million activations per day, making it the most popular mobile OS in the world. There are certain markets the little green robot is not reaching quite yet, though. Enterprise users still put their trust in other platforms, mainly BlackBerry. Android is great for the general consumer and entertainment, but it is not the best option for companies and corporations – something Google is hoping to change very soon.

We uncovered a recent Google trademark filing for the phrase “Play Means Business,” a trademark that we were hoping to be related to a better enterprise solution. This ended up being nothing but an advertising stunt for YouTube, but the idea made us consider the fact that the topic deserves attention.

There have been rumors of RIM potentially licensing its software, such options seem to have been turned down after Thorsten Heins took the CEO chair at RIM’s HQ. Android manufacturers are also making an effort by releasing their own enterprise solutions, Samsung being one of the most notable. What Android needs is a solid and universal solution, though. Not one that is limited by brands and exclusivity, but a service that would be embedded into Android’s core.

Bringing the next best solution for Enterprise isn’t an easy feat to accomplish. RIM built its reputation over many years of work, focusing mainly on BlackBerry’s potential in the business department, something Google and its competitors have found difficult to counter. What will it take for our little green robot to look its best wearing a business suit?

Better Software Security

Due to its popularity, Android is the most targeted mobile platform. Malware and virus developers love having that large amount of potential targets. Most would argue that Android is safe for smartphone users exhibiting caution, but businesses don’t want a single mistake. Especially when delicate information is at hand.

With that said, Android has been known to have its security faults. This has been greatly improved, especially since the inclusion of Bouncer. But there are still some kinks to get worked out.

There is much more to security aside from encryption, passwords, and PIN numbers. Google would need to add (or remove) some features embedded in Android’s core. For example, a company would probably not want give its workers the ability to side-load apps. Another discrepancy would be the fact that one can root a device, endangering it even more. Unfortunately, a knowledgeable user can always root a device, but a notification system for tampered devices could offset this fear.

Enterprise customers would also need to keep their devices much more secured. A good password or PIN for unlocking the device and accessing certain apps is necessary.


Given the fact that Android’s “openness” makes it a potentially dangerous software, encryption is a must for Enterprise customers. This would give Android a second security wall protecting information from intruders.

Google hasn’t worked too much on this just yet but recent acquisitions prove that the company is headed in the right direction. Two years ago, Google purchased Widevine, a company dedicated to media encryption. Just a few short days ago, we uncovered that Google filed a trademark for the WideVine brand name, illustrating continued dedication to integrate Widevine’s assets.

All signs point to this being an effort to protect multimedia (movies, music and other Google Play products). But it seems like future Google Enterprise projects could also benefit from this new acquisition.

Better Hardware Protection

Software security is important, but protecting the physical device is optimal for a company’s security. It is a fact that users are much more affected by lost devices than by hacker infiltration. Those that have experienced losing a smartphone can attest to the fact that it is one of the most stressful situations one can be under. This pain would be greatly multiplied if not only was your information at risk, but your job’s as well.

As of now, there is no official way to protect Android devices against theft and loss. One needs to rely on third-party apps like Lookout, Avast and Find My Phone. While these can be very reliable, it would bring more comfort to enterprise users if it came handcuffed to the device itself.

The ability to lock a BlackBerry remotely has been one of the most enticing features for Enterprise security. If a device is lost, the company can easily block the the smartphone and secure its information. It would take a good amount of work from Google to replicate this, but such features could determine the outcome and success of the project.

Enterprise-friendly Support from the Google Play Store

With such a large portfolio of apps and content in the Play Store, there is no doubt there are some great tools enterprise users have not taken advantage of yet. Could Google be preparing branded versions of the store for business users? Or maybe a special section for secure, enterprise-ready apps and services?

In order to simplify the businessman’s experience, Google could offer a featured page for companies, much like they do for carriers. For example, Verizon users have a section in the Play Store that lists Big Red’s recommended apps. Other manufacturers have also taken advantage of this in the past. Much like this, Google can offer a portal in the Google Play Store that would display an array of company-curated applications that would be necessary for carrying out the worker’s responsibilities.

Google could also allow apps to be mass-purchased by the company. As of now, multiple users need separate payment methods for purchasing applications. In a better world, those that enter the Google Play Store under a company-approved e-mail would be able to purchase certain apps under a set company’s credit card. This would be able to be managed remotely by administrators, and it could be limited as seen fit.

What else can you think of?

Of course, there is a world of enterprise communications options. Most of which many of us have never experienced. We could add push notification for chat messages, read/unread messages (like BBM), document sharing/collaborating and more. The list could go on forever, but we would like to know what you think Google could do to beat competitors like RIM in supporting businesses with an enterprise focused experience.

Would you like to see any other features/modifications in Play Means Business? Let us know in the comments!

Edgar Cervantes

Indoor Google Maps available in the UK

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  1. The confidence of business users is RIM’s last leg. Once that’s kicked out from under them… bye bye Blackberry. They’ll become the next Palm: purchased by someone else that integrates some of their assets and scraps the rest. Kind of a shame since the Blackberry name has/had so much equity and recall.

    1. My company let’s execs and managers use Blackberry and nothing else. Like hell, if I ever get promoted, would I want to use anything other than an Android phone. My boss carries around his Android, and his BB.

  2. Um…simple answer, buy RIM! wait for the stock to plummet a bit more and buy them.

  3. Play Means Business: For those companies that ‘went Google’ let the administrators chose the apps from the market the employees can install. Also let them upload company brewed apps (not visible outside of company’s Play Store). And block the outside Play Store.

  4. No matter what Google does, I’m sure some company will sue for patent infringement.

  5. You may want to rethink that trademark…

    Play means business is being used to advertise on Youtube.


    1. Google owns YouTube, but whomever is using that advertisement doesn’t seem to be invoking a trademark, but more of a saying.

      1. I was just referring to this already being an official YouTube advertising site that they trademark filing it just to trademark that phrase for that YouTube page. Not for Google Play Store / Enterprise initiative as suggested by the blog post. And yeah I’m pretty aware that Google own YouTube :)

    2. ….and is probably already bought out by Google. :)

  6. If they want better penetration into Enterprise, it must begin and end with better Exchange security. For example, Android does not, by itself, enforce Exchange security policies such as forcing a security/lock PIN code, it does not wipe SD storage contents when remotely wiped. It relies on OEMs to add that security, thereby severely limiting which handsets are truely secure enough for Enterprise customers. Until Google includes these security features in the Android core, Enterprise will be slow to adopt it.

    1. You can do most or all of these functions on Android without Exchange security. You are correct about certain devices being secured however, and that is why the MDM market see’s a 4 to 1 ratio of Apple devices vs Android in adoption (phones), and 9 to 1 on tablets.

    2. All those features are supported, but only via GoogleApps, they need to add these features to Exchange as well in order to succeed.

      Here’s a list of some features supported via GoogleApps:
      – Password expiration – Password strength- Password history- Device wipe after x invalid password attempts- Encryption- Allow camera- Application auditing- Allow user to remote wipe device- Device activation requirement

  7. MDM,
    Certificates installation for authentication, device provisioning, encryption, corporate license for play store, Corporate program/support to promote app developments.

    1. Certs and Provisioning already exist for Android. You can force encryption as well, if the device is enrolled in an MDM solution. The Corporate licence might happen, but it took years for Apple’s VVP, and that is still only US centric. Googles attitude to volume App management is poor at best.

  8. “What else can you think of?”
    Decent proxy support for starters… capacity to mamage all devices remotelly, and push configurations and apks, support to mobile virtualization and some partnership with CISCO, VMWare and Citrix

  9. taking away the ability to side load apps is a fail

    1. For enterprise use, that and more will bring in customers. I’d say easy administration of a sub-market of the google play store, along with apps not even in the store, would go a long way toward making andorid devices more controllable by the enterprise.

      McDonald’s for example, could have its McAppStore for employees. It would be limited to vetted apps that the McAdmin thinks would be useful. It would be kind of like a firewall with users being able to request whitelisting, etc.

  10. Don’t give up on physical keyboards — the Droid 4 should be far from Moto’s last in that line, and makes a great biz communication tool. Better security, battery life, and other improvements to keep the descendants of the OG Droid at the top of the line would really help kick some blackberry butt. As it is, the typing experience is better on the Droid 4, and the big screen and Android make it a great smartphone that could continue to get even better down the line.

  11. A lot of this is already possible through third party enterprise mobile apps, e.g.security can be done via mobile device management (MDM) solutions available currently like Mobile Iron, SOTI, Sybase Afaria, Airwatch, etc. Even Exchange Active Synch supports 40 policies which offer the main fundamental enterprise requirements (Samsung supports all 40 on some devices). Devices like the Samsung Galaxy S2 and S3 support On Device Encryption (ODE). Most organizations who utilise the latest versions of Microsoft Exchange can easily implement this functionality without additional cost. These solutions also support corporate published apps which address the lackof this inherently in Android.

    Anti malware software also addresses concerns of malicious apps.

    Agree that some of the responsibility lies with Android but the OEM’s can also differentiate themselves by offering better integration with corporate infrastructure software and services. Organizations need to explore these nuances when make device and platform decisions.

    An area which requires more focus is around strong authentication and biometric support natively on Android.

    Android is arguably better than most platforms right now for Enterprise: customers just need to be made aware of how to go about defining their mobility strategies and implementing best practise policies, processes and tools.

    1. The problem is that “Android” is a meaningless term from a corporate IT standpoint. We can’t support every device that exists and most don’t even get updates for the length of their contracts.

      A corporate IT is probably only going to support a specific device on a specific carrier because it costs too much to deal with Android fragmentation.

  12. Here’s a whitepaper on making Android Enterprise-Ready http://boxtone.com/white-paper-lp/making-android-enterprise-ready.aspx. It needs updated since it was written early 2011, but it covers a lot of the management control enterprises need from Android to allow BYOD. In it, it references BoxTone’s partnership use of 3LM’s technology developed by former Android developers to unlock the linux-based security already present in Android. Oh… and 3LM was purchased by Motorola in February 2011. And Motorola was purchased by…you see where I’m going.

  13. About a year ago, Motorola announced that they are developing an enterprise secure solution for the Android phones by creating an encrypted partition inside the the android phone to house and operate a separate enterprise partition which is fully encrypted and secure. I don’t know where they are with that at this point!

  14. How about allowing the ability to do VPN with split tunneling.

  15. Whenever Android comes up in my company, I have to recommend against supporting it. The sheer number of devices, OS levels, and UI’s available out there would be a support nightmare. It just came up a couple of weeks ago when someone in a warehouse wanted to test an “Android Tablet”. That tells me nothing. It’s a meaningless term, especially when compared to iPad.

    Until some manufacturer commits to timely OS and security patches for the lifetime of a product (2 years won’t cut it for tablets), Android won’t be acceptable to most corporate IT departments. Those updates must also be controllable by the enterprise to allow for proper testing of custom apps.

  16. This is what I’ve been waiting for, someone to BlackBerry the Android OS for business. The solution would be relatively simple, create a password protected VM android session inside android that is tied directly to a new BlackBerry style Android server that hosts all enterprise Apps and data across a VPN. This would isolate the data from non-enterprise apps, create a secure data channel and allow business to have complete control over critical user experience.

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