If you know me or follow me, you know that I love Linux. I have workstations, servers, a laptop and a netbook all with Linux on them. However, it bothers me greatly when vendors hop onto a bandwagon, like the Linux one, and yet they don't really think about reality when they do it. I've lost count of the number of new companies have sprung up in the past six months touting support for BYOD, mobile device management and Enterprise gadget this or user device that. But, most of them only support Android. I appreciate entrepreneurship and innovation but come on...Android? Really?
And, you know how some people can leap off into 'religious' rants that only seem important to them? Well, I'm about to break into today's Irritable Bowel Syndrome* colon cramp tirade, so hold on. So, bail now or grab a cup of coffee and take a ride with me while I explain to you how wrong and dangerous it is to mess with an all-Android product focus.
And, yes, I've seen Apple and other mobile device vendors go back and forth on mobile device market share numbers; each one claiming a majority of the market. Let's just say that Android and Apple make up the bulk of the market but they're not alone. Look at the so-called 'smart' phone market players:
- Android - Various vendors
Don't you think it wise to support the two primary market holders at the very least? The better question is, "How wise is it to only support one platform?"
It isn't wise at all. The reason is not that you should support any device that a user owns, although that's a pretty good reason. The reason is that most companies want to buy only one solution for their mobile device management. If your software only supports Android, you're severely limiting yourself to those companies that only allow Android phones, which,...let's count them up...OK, so, none.
For example, I own an iPhone 4. If that device isn't supported on my employer's network, then I will expect, and rightly so, that they'll supply me with a device. If they supply the device, that isn't BYOD now is it? And, therefore, they're not saving money nor are they allowing me to use my iPhone.
The solution is for them to not buy your single device-oriented software.
The reality is that Android has some of the market and Apple has some of the market. So do Windows phones and Blackberry. I currently have a corporate-owned Windows phone. Before that, I had a corporate-owned Blackberry. If your software doesn't support those, then too bad, so sad, you won't have any customers because no company of any size has only one type of device, corporate-owned or not.
The other more interesting part of this whole BYOD phenom is that your higher-end, executive types will own Apple products. They can afford them. They aren't geeks so they're going with what's trendy and cool, not what's geeky. You know, the folks at the high end of the pay scale buy the good stuff. Ironically, they want to hire people at the bottom of the range but want to purchase products at the other end of the spectrum: Apple, Mercedes, Starbucks, Klipsch. But, that's a whole other rant.
Selling a product that only supports one type of mobile device is like opening a sandwich shop and only offering a 'Ham and Cheese on Rye.' It's very limiting and not wise. In fact, it's really kind of dumb. And, you really shouldn't do it.
I know that it's easy to create software and services for Android. It's Linux. It's going to be easier. But, picking the low-hanging Android fruit won't get you where you want to be, which presumably is into company networks. You have to play nice with other types of mobile devices or you won't be playing at all. As I wrote earlier, companies only want to deal with one mobile device management (MDM) software, not four or even two. Either you support all types of devices or you might as well just program some Apps for an App Store. You'll find more success and more customers. After all, you're banking on market share, aren't you?
Think back to the early 1900s, when the automobile was a new thing. Henry Ford's company built cars. The joke was that, "You can have any color you want as long as you want black." Other car companies that entered the market taught Mr. Ford something very important about consumers: They want choices. What motivates you to buy a new car if the new one looks exactly like the old one? At least change the grille and tail lights on the new model.
Consider the following scenario:
SCENE: DAY - INTERIOR TRADE SHOW FLOOR
CIO: Hi, I'm looking for MDM software for my company.
VENDOR: Great, how many devices do you expect to manage?
CIO: About 2,000.
VENDOR: Great, we have a scalable, available, affordable...blah blah blah solution.
CIO: Awesome, let me have a look.
VENDOR: Let me see your Android phone and I'll give you a live demo.
CIO: I have an iPhone 4, not Android.
VENDOR: Oh, what types of devices comprise that 2,000 number that you gave me?
CIO: All types but maybe only 350 Android ones.
VENDOR: Well, we can certainly manage those 350 for you with our SMB version of our software.
CIO: We want a single MDM for all of our devices. Yours only supports Android?
VENDOR: Yes, Android only. Can I show you the benefits of using Android? It's much more...
CIO: Nah, thanks. I need something that will accommodate all device types.
VENDOR: Do you want to enter our drawing for a free Android phone?
Very sad. Very bad.
The solution is to also provide support for Apple devices--at the very least. And, yes, I've heard the rhetoric about Apple's inability to use mobile hypervisors. I say, "Talk to the hand." Don't give me excuses; give me results. If Apple devices won't use mobile hypervisors, then figure out another way to create multiple profiles. If nothing else, you could use an App that uses a VPN connection and only branded VPN-aware or VPN-authenticated Apps will work while connected. How about that?
Get busy you Android-only vendor types and get me some Apple support or give me nothing at all. * No, I don't have it, unless you count the personality equivalent of that defect.