Posted on 12/02/2010
Can Android Win Over the Enterprise Market?
For all organizations, especially large ones, the cost advantages of switching from the Blackberry may outweigh the marginal benefits of the current preference for Blackberry Enterprise Server. Competing platforms such as Google Android offer more flexibility with a wider assortment of applications that will increase productivity, especially as the platform matures.
To compound Blackberry's problems, Windows Phone 7 smartphones come preinstalled with a mobile version of Microsoft Office, including Microsoft Outlook, the current corporate favorite email and calendar service via Microsoft Exchange server. Other platforms, like Apple’s iOS and Google Android, obviously do not have mobile versions of Microsoft Office.
However, both Apple iOS and Google Android support other less popular services, such as Google Calendar, which offers out of the box two-way sync, something that BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) users (largely individual consumers) finally got access to when RIM expanded the feature beyond BES.
Large corporations rely on RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) to manage administrative IT-policies on smartphones, and for communication needs such as BlackBerry-to-BlackBerry messaging through BlackBerry Messenger, and secure e-mail and phone communication. RIM’s technology seems to offer the most secure mobile messaging that routes messages through its proprietary servers, and has ironically even prompted foreign governments to demand access to its systems to monitor information for "national security reasons."
Now some analysts are reporting that BlackBerry is in line to lose a couple of big customers. Bloomberg has reported (perhaps over zealously) that JPMorgan Chase is considering alternatives to BlackBerry for their corporate email and is testing the iPhone and Android smartphones.
The move from BlackBerry by JPMorgan Chase would be significant as the bank employs 220,000 workers worldwide. Furthermore Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS is apparently also testing the iPhone with a view to replacing BlackBerry for their 63,000 employees.
CIO Magazine reported that JPMorgan will security-test a few hundred iPhones and Android devices in batches over the coming months, with a decision expected on whether or not the devices are acceptable before year's end. However, CIO reports that JPMorgan has no plans to purchase iPhones and/or Android devices for its employees, even if the devices do pass all the appropriate security-tests and that JPMorgan has no plans to abandon BlackBerry smartphones, even if it decides to support other non-RIM devices. CIO magazine also reports that Swiss bank UBS, which is similarly piloting iPhones, but has no plans whatsoever to ditch BlackBerrys for any other mobile device.
The reality is that very few large corporations, especially security-minded organizations, have intentions to abandon the BlackBerry and replace it with Apple's iPhone or any Google Android device. And that's not going to change for at least a couple more years as it will take some time for these companies to analyze the direction of this new market. There are exceptions but for organizations where security is a high priority, BlackBerrys are the only choice because RIM devices are highly secure. BlackBerry is still the most secure enterprise mobility option.
However, as Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd analyst, Pierre Ferragu has said, “this phenomenon is very new and we expect it to put increased pressure on RIM’s performance. BlackBerry isn’t the only alternative to offer employees mobile e-mail.” The culprit to RIM’s downward trend is its aging operating system. RIM’s declining market share is largely attributable to newer platforms from Apple, Google and Microsoftm which offer a superior user experience with sleeker more advanced smartphones.
And with last month's introduction of Motorola's Droid Pro, Android has a mobile platform capable of supporting administrative IT-policies, and for communication needs such as wireless connectivity, plus secure e-mail and phone communication. The ground work is being done to put in place several alternatives to Blackberry as the enterprise choice form mobile communications and Android is looking very strong.