Is Android Froyo the update needed to encourage enterprise adoption?

Is Android Froyo the update needed to encourage enterprise adoption?

Summary: The latest release of Google Android addresses several enterprise concerns and makes Android a more attractive business solution. Will Android become the new Windows Mobile of the business world?


Today's big news is obviously the release of Froyo (Google Android 2.2) that will be coming soon to existing and new smartphones. While I have seen many business people bringing iPhones to the workplace, it seems that Google Android adoption is still limited. The Motorola DROID appeals to many because of its QWERTY keyboard and the DROID Incredible's specifications and official USB tethering make Android an attractive option. However, when your IT hears that you want to use an open Google Android device on the network they may balk because it doesn't sound secure. The latest Android 2.2 update may be a point update, but it has some significant improvements in performance and in enterprise capabilities.

The Android developers blog posted five areas of this latest update they wanted to highlight and one was focused on new enterprise capabilities. Here are some of those improvements:

  • Improved security with the addition of numeric pin or alpha-numeric password options to unlock device. Exchange administrators can enforce password policy across devices.
  • Remote wipe: Exchange administrators can remotely reset the device to factory defaults to secure data in case device is lost or stolen.
  • Exchange Calendars are now supported in the Calendar application.
  • Auto-discovery: you just need to know your user-name and password to easily set up and sync an Exchange account (available for Exchange 2007 and higher).
  • Global Address Lists look-up is now available in the Email application, enabling users to auto-complete recipient names from the directory.
  • Portable WiFi hotspot: Certain devices like the Nexus One can be turned into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that can be shared with up to 8 devices.

You have been able to get Calendar sync if you had an HTC Sense device, but it is nice to see it now come to the default OS since many like to have a Google device that gets faster updates and not be too overwhelmed with Sense UI features. Contacts sync with Exchange and Exchange email were added in Android 2.0 so Calendar was the last of the big three (email, contacts, and calendard) missing from Exchange sync. There is still no Task sync capability though.

Device policy management is a big deal to companies as well since it gives your IT department some security control over devices accessing the network. With the explosion of Android devices in the market and every carrier now offering at least one Android device it will be interesting if Android becomes the new Windows Mobile of the business world. RIM still seems to lead in the enterprise market, but with updates like this Android becomes more and more attractive to the prosumer bringing their own device to the workplace.

Topics: Smartphones, Android, Google, Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility

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  • Android makes the iPhone look like a clunky, locked-down piece of junk.

    It all sums up to this: Google is, in fact, doing it right in a few areas where Apple is doing it wrong.
    OS Reload
    • RE: Is Android Froyo the update needed to encourage enterprise adoption?

      @OS Reload yeah the fact that iOS supported proper device encryption in 3.1 Makes it years behind android, where i can't use my phone with my server.

  • Yes, Android will take over business

    Each version of Android brings more business features. But Android is also the only platform versatile enough for business. Android is the best platform for custom business apps. It's the only platform that can be adapted to various handset form factors, such as rugged industrial devices. The rugged market is already moving from Windows Mobile to Android.
    • ROTFL! Oh you're too much, Market Analyst! LOL

      I knew without even reading that you were going to bring up Windows Mobile! Too predictable.<br>But as someone else proved here just recentlly, those people that repetedlly go out of their way to bring up a product in order to talk it down turn out to be the ones most frightened by it.<br><br>So, it's offical: Market Analyst is actually scared that Windows Phone 7 will be successful enough to take away from Android!<br><br>Thanks for the vote of confidence in WP7!<br><br><img border="0" src="" alt="happy">
      John Zern
      • Windows Phone 7 will be about as popular... a beer mug with a hole in the bottom.
        OS Reload
      • RE: Is Android Froyo the update needed to encourage enterprise adoption?

        @John Zern I'd be concerned of Windows Phone 7 in terms of Android adoption if it were an extension of Windows Mobile. But it's not. All those enterprise Windows Mobile apps aren't going to work on Windows Phone 7, so it is essentially a completely new platform for businesses. Any legacy apps will need to be rewritten, so Windows Phone 7 loses its only advantage as an updated OS and becomes a new OS and will have to fight the market share battle completely from scratch. Because of those, businesses moving from Windows Mobile won't have any advantage going to Windows Phone 7, so bringing up the former is not an indication of fear of the latter.
  • Drivers

    I can imagine an organization being able to take advantage of the best promise of Android -- being able to create their own corporate ROM from source.

    Unfortunately, since Google wanted to get hardware manufacture adoption, you cannot get the drivers or source to effectively manipulate the hardware because they are on a separate license.
    • RE: Is Android Froyo the update needed to encourage enterprise adoption?

      @whiteonline Android is not really open. If you really want to build something custom with it and you are not a handset manufacturer, you must hack, exactly as it is the case with Windows Mobile or IPhone OS. And that's understandable, google wants the same thing as Apple, Microsoft, or RIM.
    • RE: Is Android Froyo the update needed to encourage enterprise adoption?

      @whiteonline It's not really open in terms of OS manipulation for businesses, but in app development. The OS allows installation from "untrusted sources". So, XYZ International Corp. can program internal business apps and deploy them on their fleet of Android phones without going through the Android Market, and without involving anyone outside of their organization. And without having to pay anyone outside of their business to do so. Implementing a custom ROM involves rooting and violating the warranty, which most businesses aren't going to be too keen on doing.
  • RE: Is Android Froyo the update needed to encourage enterprise adoption?

    Great if your company uses Exchange and has Exchange ActiveSync enabled. Most large companies have since disabled ActiveSync as it offers zero means to actually umm manage smartphones. It's an email connector and allows some basic policy enforcement.

    It's comically how iPhone and Android don't even support the already limited Exchange ActiveSync policy set. It's the poor man's means to allow mobile devices. Anyone serious about enterprise mobile management (regardless who's liable for it) is or has migrated to a middleware solution (there are no less then 20 at this point) for these other devices.

    People cannot 10 years later realize Blackberry is where they are due to having the best backend solution out there. Period. They are pushing the boundary so far out while everyone else is stuck relying on what ActiveSync will provide.

    Considering a number of states now have regulation around data encryption the ability to remote erase and enforce a password is as basic as it gets.
    • RE: Is Android Froyo the update needed to encourage enterprise adoption?

      @MobileAdmin if people are going to a middleware solution, then what's the problem? Pressure your middleware provider for an Android app with integration. Do you expect Android to provide baked-in integration with 20 different middleware solutions? That's the thing: Android you can expand its capabilities with apps, and not just superficial wrapping of web content in a mobile app with a couple ads thrown in ... see Twitter & Facebook's level of integration and there's no reason a middleware provider can't create an app for Android that gives deep integration.