Will Google beat out Apple in enterprise? [POLL]


With RIM’s Blackberry operating system and line of devices taking a backseat to Android and iOS in the consumer market, many are wondering who will be the company to gain the interest of enterprise. Some predicted RIM would never lose a ton of market share in that category, but they’ve steadily lost a lot of ground (albeit not at nearly the same rate as they did within the consumer market).

Apple might have been the obvious answer five years ago, and Microsoft is still positioning themselves for a run at that market, but Android is just as viable a platform as any when it comes to meeting the needs of big business.

Security has been one of the major issues that has kept Android back from being the end all, be all operating system in business, but now that Google is beginning to take a more steadfast approach in plugging up the holes we could see more suits looking its way. So, who do I think will win this particular war? My short answer is Google, but bias isn’t a part of that. Let me show you why I think Android could definitely look to dominate business.

Open and “free”

One of the biggest reasons businesses could have their cross-hairs squared on Google’s mobile operating system is due to its openness. Because Android can be had in open source form by anyone who knows how to compile source code, Google’s operating system lends itself well to businesses who need deep customization. We’ve seen Android adapt to everything from televisions and watches to glasses and tablets, so an IT department has to feel comfortable knowing they can do pretty much whatever they want with Android.

Realistically speaking, the amount of businesses who will customize Android that deeply is likely so small that they don’t even show a blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things, but more control over software and hardware is something that a ton of businesses desire, and Android provides just that.

And because Android is open, anyone can take any crop of Android phones and put their own workforce environments on them without help from Google or the OEMs. You can cook up 10 applications for your business right now and install them on all of your employees’ Android phones without having to interface with anyone you don’t want to, and that is a very big deal.

Finally, if your business requires employees to use company-issued phones it would be a lot more cost efficient to order 100 or 200 cheap, unlocked Android phones wholesale through an OEM or third party seller compared to having to deal with the premium and perks that comes with interfacing directly with the likes of Apple.

It’s secure enough for the military and NASA

As I mentioned before, Google is starting to take security very strongly on the malware side of things. Malware isn’t the only thing to worry about when it comes to security, though. If businesses are wondering if Android can be tight enough to deliver secure mobile computing environments for its customers then they shouldn’t look further than what the United States military is doing with it.

There was a time where we couldn’t go a day without hearing about how the United States Army or the Marines were using Android in the field to help with day-to-day operations. Whether it be simple things like training apps and guides to full-on GPS systems for field combat, the military has embraced Android in ways that we never thought they would.

The United States Army regularly holds developer competitions to see who can develop the best and most innovative apps for its soldiers to use to help make life easier, and more serious and critical military applications are said to be worked on behind closed doors all the time.

Beyond that, even NASA has employed Android for its space exploration efforts. If you don’t remember, the Nexus S became the first NASA certified smartphone to be used on-board a space shuttle for a launch mission. It wasn’t out scouring mars for aliens or foreign particles, but it helped along in missions to test NASA’s new SPHERES satellites — that’s a very big deal, I’d say.

So if Google’s Android is powerful enough to help NASA and the United States military, private businesses surely have no reason to believe it’s not adequate for their own use, right? I would think so.

Email is the trump card

There’s no secret that fans of Microsoft Exchange are a bit underwhelmed by Google’s accommodations. For starters, Android’s Exchange support has never lent itself well to the calendar and tasks part of the equation. This has been an area where Microsoft (duh) and RIM have always shined, and I won’t act like it’s not an important thing to get right.

But if we’re talking about Apple vs Google, the latter would appear to have the upper-hand. Both platforms offer your basic, standard built-in push email support for Exchange email, but Google has a leg up on Apple in that it specializes in providing its own very good set of enterprise-focused services for email and calendar.

Google Apps for Business– which provides things like Gmail and Google Calendar for businesses — is a fantastic platform to migrate to and has proven to be a mainstay for many small and medium-sized businesses. Google’s still the little guy up against the likes of Exchange and IBM’s Lotus, but like Android the open nature of the platform means it can scale to the needs of a lot of different businesses (and at a fraction of the cost, no less).

Apple simply doesn’t have anything like that in their arsenal, and that could be detrimental to their efforts in trying to sway enterprise. Even if you aren’t a fan of Android’s built-in Exchange support or looking to switch your company over to Google Apps, there are still a lot of nice solutions — such as Nitrodesk’s Touchdown — that can deliver everything you need.

Enterprise won’t flock to Android nearly as hastily as consumers did simply due to the volatile and risky nature of switching up the communications aspect of any business, but when it’s all said and done I feel like Google has the tools — not only with Android, but with the powerful platform that is Google Apps — to emerge victorious.

[polldaddy poll=6770330]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Working in an Enterprise setting for a very large company, many companies are pushing iOS for its security. Right now here, the percent of iOS to Android is 80 percent iOS 20 Android.

    1. That being said, Android has a lot more potential and has the ability to take over Enterprise in the next few years.

      1. lol you do realize apple has like no services such as Google docs, gmail, their own search engine, a video streaming site and a social network. Apples biggest projects in the past 2 years have been complete failures in the public eye, they are still having problems with siri data transmissions and apple maps, well you know….. the only thing Apple has is iOS and are very dependent on the service’s of other as we saw with the backlash they received from getting rid of Google maps. they also rely very heavily on Microsoft office . Google has a much better shot at enterprises.

        1. You do realize that services have virtually no impact on Enterprise right now. Most companies have their own services set up and are just trying to find a good way to connect to them. Don’t get me wrong, I am an Android user. i have two activated Android phones, and an Android Tablet. The problem is the upkeep for Android is too much for Enterprise. A prime example is the Galaxy Nexus. When it launched, it wouldn’t connect to our ActiveSync profiles. When it got 4.1, it worked just fine. Thats the issue. Any phone that doesn’t pass, could if it gets an update. With all of the Android phones that come out, there is no way to get a phone in, reject it and send it back only to have to request another one two months later and re-test it. You wanna know what works right every time and only needs one device to test it? iOS. They are all the same and are more secure than any other device. iOS owns enterprise for now and will for a while. Google isn’t trying to win Enterprise anyway. That isn’t their market.

    2. yes.. large corporations are typically 2+ years behind

    3. interesting – i’m at a 10,000+ employee company and i see about 50/50 between Android and iOS here. i wonder if the type of business matters much in the eventual diversity of mobile platforms? i’m in the semiconductor industry. seems the testers and folks in the fab use iOS more, and the analog and digital designers use Android more, though both platforms are used by both groups. (and this is all purely my opinion and and based on casual observation)

      1. That is interesting. I actually work in the mobility team of our company, and so I get to see the actual numbers. Our company provided numbers are about 80 20 iOS, but we do offer BYOM so that evens it a bit. The problem we face with Android is fragmentation. We have to test every single device that comes out for Android because some won’t connect to our servers, or wont accept our policies. That is the benefit of iOS and Windows Phone, they are all the same and so you test one, and they all get approved.

  2. I work for a very large international company and Android doesn’t have a chance here for quite some time. Currently Android devices are banned from connecting to the intranet or any of the externally accessible Exchange servers (ActiveSync?). Communications from our IS department explicitly state that Android is a security nightmare and the ban is not likely to lifted for the foreseeable future. In the meantime all company phones are being replaced with iPhones and employees are allowed to use their personal iPhone to connect to the company network. Now pretty much everyone is switching to iPhones (also MacBooks are becoming more popular). I love my Android phone so it is very frustrating to say the least. At least at the company I work for, Apple is winning.

    1. It would be interesting to know which aspects of security these companies are being cautious about. To completely block the use of Android on the intranet? That seems a tad extreme. I wonder if their security concerns are as valid as they’d have us believe. Could just be that they just want to take the easiest route possible (which is not a knock on your IT department — sometimes efficiency is as important as anything else when it comes to ISS and support, especially if that company is as huge as you say it is).

      1. I would like to know as well. My company is allowing users on Android Devices and also some use IOS to connect to our network

      2. My understanding is the security concerns were originally based on the lack of data at rest encryption (default encryption of all data on the phone), remote system administration tools (erase all data remotely, enforce lock screen passwords…) and the amount of malware on the Play Store. I understand these issues have been resolved with more recent versions of Android, but I guess it might be difficult to enforce which versions of Android are acceptable. So while the original issues with Android might have mostly been corrected, from their point of view what is the business benefit to spend the amount of time (money) to accommodate Android?

        I presume the biggest hurdle now is that all the IS people have and love their iPhones, so why would they spend the effort allowing Android and the support headaches bringing another platform to the network?

        Almost forgot to mention that Windows Phones are also not approved (except for some older versions).

      3. It’s Security’s job to say “no” first. Always. They hear about trojans in the marketplace, yet never take the time to research the real issues. They also hear how iOS has security issues when connecting to intranets, so those are automatically banned, regardless of any updates. Security is usually 2 years behind at larger companies. Part of that is not being agile enough and the other more important part is you’re not just looking after one office. You’re looking after a corporation so things need to be vetted a bit more. I know of a government agency still using Vista.

        1. I work for DOD and We are still using XP, but I’m a firefighter so a up to date computer is not all that important.

          1. I work for a cellular service provider. We still use XP, but that’s because a lot of our tools hate Windows 7.

    2. And Apple isn’t? What about Apple’s tendency to deny issues with their systems (Mac Trojan, viral apps in the market, etc)? At least Google has been working on getting these fixed, while (like Microsoft in the 90s), Apple denies it?

      1. The masses don’t care. They see the condescending commercials with Siri and the blinders go up. They heard from some old mac weenie that Macs never get a virus and regurgitate that. I was just at a party where a couple people were talking about getting the SGSIII. Why? Because they heard you can bump phones and transfer pictures and videos. Yes, out of all the features the phone has, the one commercial with a gimmicky feature is what sticks.

        1. All Apple does is produce gimmicky commercials. Their hardware is dated and they are pretty much featureless compared to most other phones. We have the Nexus 4s, and we bump all the time. It is great for pictures, websites and more. I do not do playlists.

    3. Working for large defense contractors, iphones are the first to be banned due to lack of security. While people may want a Mac because they’ve seen them at a store or may have one at home, large corporations get deals from Dell and HP that Apple just cannot deliver. Also, since Apple doesn’t really do xserves anymore, corporations want to stick with fewer vendors to buy all of their IT needs. While some may have ipads, it’s only because at the time they were purchased there were no real Android or Windows tablets out there to compete with. Microsoft is still a mainstay in large corporations that need control over their services. While people love Gmail and use it at their desk, Exchange is still the best and most extensible for corporations. It also provides better safeguards for internal corporate mail than gmail and online document management hosted by another company.

      For the many companies and government agencies in the D.C. area I’ve worked for and with, Apple is losing by a long shot. For some reason people love Apple, but it’s just not practical in a setting like that.

      1. Strange, as the biggest mobile device fleets for business that are covered by MDM are almost totally IOS based. Those companies still running RIM are ditching in favour of IOS due to parity in security and better flexibility in the way IOS can be managed (especially for EAS email).

    4. Sounds like your company’s IS department is either lazy or incompetent, gonna say lazy because Android security is not a “nightmare” unless you’re too lazy to do it right

  3. Lol, you ask on an Android-fan-based forum if Google will beat Apple…
    Hell yeah they will.
    The big key is Android is open-sourced. So it can be adapted for any type of business and companies can have (e.g.) a personalized ROM of some sorts that will be much more efficient to use for the company… Also with Google’s new direction of integration with all of their services, it would be a no brainer for companies to make the switch

    1. Supporting an in-house ROM is very capital intensive. Major OEMs struggle to keep their phones updated, secure, and compatible, how do you expect your resident IT department to do it?

      I think Android will win, but it has nothing to do with it being open. It’s all about Google Apps and Google’s ability to drive adoption of the productivity suite. Google Apps sync better with Android than any other platform naturally, so Google just needs to sign up companies for Google Apps and the case for Android becomes much stronger.

      1. I kinda disagree with you… Being an open-sourced OS has many advantages, and I just listed an example of what companies can do with Android. It’s not limited to that. Possibilities such as enhancing the security of the stock Android OS, adding features that would be beneficial to the company to existing Android devices (perhaps specialized apps) and so on, can help companies choose Android over Apple/Blackberry/Windows, just because they can mod whatever they like with Android.
        But I agree with you on the fact that the Google Apps helps a lot with the decision to switch to Android… However, there are many options that companies can look at if all they are looking for is integration, such as Windows devices (especially the Surface, which I can imagine having a potentially high market share among companies). There has to be something special about Android that would attract companies towards it, and integration isn’t gonna cut it. An open-sourced OS is, however.
        Hopefully Google can work on their business market share more, and offer great solutions that would attract companies to make the switch to Android… Yet again, maybe they don’t want to because then they would have total domination of the market (they would seriously be everywhere, like Google Fiber and other services )… Who knows…

  4. The 17 votes in Apple’s favor, are all Trolls :)

    1. Absolutely not true! I picked that and own 0 apple devices…..just got rid of my ipod. My company is heavily invested in ipads, I phones…..they are starting to company issue them. They will easily beat Google to the punch and already have in most cases.

      1. Just because your company’s IS is lazy doesn’t change the fact that Android is actually more secure, most likely they’re also Apple fanboys on top of lazy

        1. I agree that android is as secure if not more so. My company is far from lazy however. The ecosystem is much more fluid and consistent from device to device though….. You can not argue that the android experience definitely varies from device to device unless it is a nexus. That is a huge advantage when using it for business.

  5. RIM and Microsoft will rise once again.
    They should’ve been seperate options. RIM will not.

    1. please expatiate o ye wise one…..

      1. Most enterprises use Active Directory and Exchange. As far as I have noticed, Windows Phone has the best integration for that. With the companies I worked at it “mostly” worked with Android. With Windows Phone I had no trouble at all.

        Moreover, Google Apps just fails with Outlook 2013, I can set it as imap, but not as exchange.

        As for RIM, they’ve lost too many customers at the moment and I don’t think they will get the developer interest back, Microsoft has a lot of good tools (Visual Studio works really well) and RIM’s attempts to get developers have failed. I remember them offering developers a choice to upload their APK to convert it to a format to run it on the Blackberry tablet. The support was dropped within a year… Not weird since some API’s were just missing which required code rewrites…

        Now let’s look at it from another perspective, big companies use Windows, they use Exchange, they use a lot of Microsoft products because they “believe” in it.
        I’m not saying it’s good or bad, they just mostly use it because others do so too. They will just not get that much flak from upper management when they use a big product compared to a special product from a small company when something goes wrong.

        Integration and brands are just important, why go for Google when you’ve been using Microsoft products for years and you get the integration you want/expect?

        1. Why go Google? Because perhaps by switching to Google Apps you’ll save money and still maintain the same level of productivity. I’m not saying it’s a guarantee, but for companies that do make the switch to Google Apps, Android becomes a popular option.

  6. Easy. Look at one of the main reasons the military likes Android. Its open, so its free, but also its closed, as in they can make it how they want. They can lock it down and customize it to their needs as much as they want.

    Also, greater choice in hardware. With IOS you have no choice but to sign everything over to Apple, not the case in Google. You could have your own phone hardware specifications, put a custom version of android on it, and have a mobile computer to your own liking.

    1. And how many companies can afford that luxury?

      The case for Android in the business world is not it’s openness or even it’s choice, it’s the integration into Google Apps. Most businesses, with certain exceptions like the aforementioned military, don’t give a hoot about the open and custom nature of the platform or the vast choice in devices. What they care about is available security features (VPN, remote wipe, encryption) and integration into key productivity suites. If a company chooses Google Apps, Android becomes a very attractive option due to the shear level of integration that it offers over other platforms.

  7. Its not all about security. Android (especially OEM vanilla Android) lacks the necessary tools to allow mobile devices to be profiled for business use easily (for example WiFi configuration, VPN and LDAP). Not to mention the shambles that it native EAS support from devices other than the SAmsung SAFE devices. IOS supports these profiles natively making it a far more accessible platform for distributed management.
    Of course this is completely overlooking the other part of mobility which is tablets, which right now Apple is not just winning, its owning.

  8. I don’t know whats really missing from the Exchange support in Android. My exchange email syncs fine, my calendar events integrate into my main calendar…. with the latest calendar app update, I can dial into a teleconference right from the meeting notification. No complaints here.

  9. I see Apple dominating this space, unfortunately. I work at an investment bank and am the only person in the firm with an Android phone. Everyone else has an iPhone, many have iPads, and only like 2-3 are still holding onto their old school blackberrys. This is definitely a more affluent crowd than your standard enterprise, so maybe my view is skewed, but the demand for iOS is astonishing. As a result, work-related productivity / video conferencing / database apps are often exclusively for iOS. Android is going to have a hard time breaking through this even with its advantages.

    Personally, I think Microsoft has the best chance to make a dent in the space. They already have the work PC market on lockdown, but if their Windows 8 tablets can prove to be more business-thinking than the iPad, usage could increase. Given that it is truly a productivity device instead of a consumption device like the iPad, it has a good shot at succeeding.

    Me? I’ll hang on to my Gnex and N7. Screw everyone else.

    1. I sadly say that I agree with you.

      1. Totally agree. Google has to step it up big time to win that crowd.

    2. The trump card for Google is Google Apps. As Google can convince more businesses to switch away from Microsoft Exchange and Office, Android becomes the platform that makes the most sense. iOS still plays nice with these services, but Android is still the best bet for integrating with Google offered services. If Google can make the case for Google Apps, they can make the case for Android in the enterprise market. Apple has nothing to compete with Google Apps.

    3. Everybody has an iPhone and many iPads because they are apple products. Apple products are considered luxury, Americans want luxury that is why you see a lot of them around. As far as enterprise ability sure iOs may have the slight edge on Android by being locked down but Android has the capability to be anything and Enterprise Focused is one of those things, you forget that its not the popularity that makes for the best enterprise device but the ability to be secure, Android is getting there at least with devices being able to encrypt data. The Note 2 could easily be the best enterprise device as it stands in the war of android vs iOs its very functional as a business device as its like the old school pocket PCs there are ways to customize and secure it, the multi-tasking is probably best overall with their split screen features do 2 things at once.

      Windows RT for tabs and Surface will be great Enterprise tab UI for the same reason and more. Windows is already familiar, The multi-tasking is there, its probably equally secure and I’m sure Microsoft will make a Enterprise edition or a Manufacturer will. I don’t see Any apple device being a “serious” enterprise device more so those will be more novelty than anything else. Windows Will probably remain the Enterprise kings or be dethroned by android in the Tabs and smartphone area.

    4. I agree 100% with you. I am not a fan boy of either OS so don’t hate. But if you look on the street almost everyone has an iPhone or iPad. They dominate the market. And also going along with companies, hundreds use their iPhones, iPods and iPads for business. Tons of stores around me use iPads as their computers, iPhones and iTouches to scan products. Plus just look at commercials, Apple, Apple, Apple. They use iPhones all the time.

  10. I am in the tech field and personally use a N4. The enterprise environment is still very skeptical of android devices within their network for varying reasons top on the list security. RIM, msft & iOS(ipad) will be the main players in the enterprise space for the foreseeable future.
    With the onset of the BYOP in the enterprise space, there has been a rise in the use of iOS devices allowed on corporate networks, android on the other hand has been a cautious approach.

    1. I really wish RIM would give up on BB10 and just come to Android. They could offer enterprise ready Android that companies would actually embrace. They could still offer all of their core competencies and become relevant again almost overnight.

  11. I don’t see any one company ‘winning out’.
    Standards will win out and the respective companies will either follow those standards or lose.

    M$ Tried to buck standards in IE, but the continuing loss of support from webdevs forced their hand to start falling in line with WC3.

  12. The Nexus Series is fully capable of Enterprise status, Most phones you can’t encrypt data but with the N4 there is that option.

  13. Apple will not likely win the enterprise market. The thing with Google, Microsoft, and RIM is that Google and Microsoft offer enterprise suites for users and RIM integrates well into them. Apple does not offer an enterprise suite and they don’t offer RIM’s level of integration. Sure, iPhones and iPads play nice with Microsoft Exchange and Google Apps, but choosing the platform made by the productivity suite vendor you choose will always be the best option. Besides, with BYOD becoming a popular option the enterprise spread will probably look a lot like the smartphone market share with perhaps a bit stronger bias towards Apple. Put plainly, Apple just doesn’t offer the kind of enterprise services as their competitors.

  14. Enterprises always take longer for tech adoption, many businesses are still using Windows 2000 or XP. So clearly this is why RIM is still stronger in this segment. However, if RIM falls Android will pick up. Windows is as Android an open platform. Apple is simply too expensive and too controlling/restricted for the enterprise market. Android is becoming more secure by the day, I mean even the U.S. Army is using Android.

  15. I wouldn’t count on the U. S. Military continuing with Android, primarily because of the email thing you mentioned. We’re requiring the use of a Military Common Access Card (CAC) for access to email now, so until SOMEBODY comes up with an affordable CAC sled for Android, we won’t be able to access our email on our phones. So what’s the point?

  16. I actually think Microsoft is going to hit enterprise hard. WP8 is a slow moving katamari.

  17. I work for one of the Big 4 accounting firms, and I know for a fact the reason that they do not allow any ICS Android devices & above to connect to our corporate email and intranet sites.

    The biggest problem is that Android natively, nor with manufacturer customization does NOT include the SD Card during a remote wipe. It will only wipe the internal memory of the phone. Right now there is only 1 phone on our corporate wireless program (Moto Droid Pro).

    This is incredibly frustrating as an Android fan that neither Google, nor any manufacturer, has stepped up to fix this feature (and yes, Samsung’s lauded SAFE corporate security features, still do not address this issue).

    Right now, Apple completely owns the corporate wireless space at my firm, and I do not see them losing it any time soon.

    1. Would that not be a problem if the only data allowed on the SD card is not ‘important’. (e.g. offline map storage, game app data, etc.) Apps can be written to not store data on the SD card. As with other Android apps, choose the ones that will work for you. With the power of choice the user bears more burden for their decisions.

  18. unlike consumer space, android rise in enterprise will be a slow burn, but ultimately android will win. Besides Google apps is the game changer service from google.

  19. Unless Rim does something exceptional, I see them joining android with a heavily locked down secure phone. Android is just the os, manufacturers can build on top without having to give away any patent of their own.

  20. I see Rim joining Android with a heavily locked down secure phone. Android is just the os, manufacturers can build on top without having to give away any patents. They can also sidestep like the Kindle.

  21. With my company it is mixed. If you have a work provided smartphone you have choices. They approve certain devices. It seems that a lot of users are going with Android. Why? Because the pricing is still the same from the cell companies. You can get this, this, and this for free. Or you can get this and this and pay for it. We all know the free is going to be Android.

  22. Right now Apple. Long term, I have to go with MS, probably. The simple fact is no company is going to want to have to support the wide range of Android hardware and OS versions.

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