In IBM and Apple's wake, what will team Android do?

The biggest challenge for team Android is that Google and Samsung, two partners with enterprise ambitions, will have to herd cats to reach corporations to counter Apple and IBM.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Google, Samsung and team Android may have to form the equivalent of the enterprise Justice League to counter the Apple-IBM alliance as well as Microsoft's foothold in corporations.

The biggest challenge for team Android is that Google and Samsung, two partners with enterprise ambitions, will have to herd cats to reach corporations. Android will need channel, integration and services support and there are few players that can match IBM's reach.

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To recap: IBM and Apple forged an alliance that revolves where Big Blue will create exclusive industry applications for iOS and use its services army to sprinkle iPads and iPhones in corporations. Apple wants more enterprise sales and IBM wants a mobile partner so it can layer in its cloud services. In the end, companies are going mobile first with cloud services on the backend.

In addition, Android's enterprise market share is the inverse in the enterprise when compared to Apple's iOS. Android dominates in the consumer world, but the enterprise is all about iOS. SAP, Oracle and Salesforce are mostly focused on iOS first with Android a close second. Most enterprise apps from the likes of Workday and other key players tend to favor iOS. In many ways, IBM just added to the pile-on.

IBM and Apple affect Microsoft somewhat, but if you buy into Satya Nadella's platform and productivity strategy the software giant may be a bit insulated. After all, Microsoft dominates in the enterprise, will make some serious mobile device management headway and has Office running better on iOS than its own Windows.

It's unclear how team Android will respond, but as Forrester analyst Frank Gillett noted, Google and leading enterprise suppliers will have to "seek partnerships that offer a credible alternative."


Let's think through how this Android Justice League could provide an iOS counterweight.

The Players

  • Samsung. Samsung has gone big in the B2B space, innovated on Android security with Knox and has some channel presence to be a larger player in the enterprise. IBM's consultants pushing iOS and industry specific apps will dent Samsung's ambitions. Samsung has avenues into select verticals, but nothing like IBM has. Android goes as Samsung goes so whatever team is formed, the Korean consumer electronics company will have to be a lead player.
  • Google. Google has an enterprise footprint and cloud services, but would really need to partner to get industry-specific coverage for Android. Look for Google to pair up more closely with integrators that compete with IBM. Think Accenture. Google could also partner with a company like Oracle, but I suspect the negotiations wouldn't go well given that pesky Android lawsuit between the two companies.
  • Lenovo. Lenovo, a key IBM partner, can't be too pleased with Big Blue pushing iOS so hard. Lenovo will be a big Android player and has the enterprise clout to make something happen. Lenovo's participation would be key to any Android enterprise countermeasure, but the company could just as easily get closer to Microsoft.
  • Hewlett-Packard. HP has a bet big on Android. HP also has the services arm to push Android in the enterprise. HP would also have to be a leading player.
  • SAP, Salesforce, Microsoft and other software players such as VMware. These enterprise software giants are likely to play Switzerland and stay out of any platform debates. SAP and Salesforce have partnered with Microsoft's Azure cloud offerings on the backend, but front-end development has revolved around iOS and Android. SAP and Salesforce may cozy up to Android if only to counter any industry specific tools made by IBM.

The likely team

Google and Samsung will likely be ringleaders and form some kind of alliance with Accenture. The problem is that it's unclear whether any enterprise vendor would want to create an exclusive Android deal given iOS and its standing in corporations.

Hewlett-Packard will also play along, but the integration and channel work will have to be a larger cast. Team Android will need Accenture and HP to push Android in the enterprise.

SAP, Salesforce and others will stay out of the fray. Oracle will hope Android loses enterprise standing — since the company believes Google's mobile platform is only a Java rip-off.

Lenovo is a total wild card and could aim to tighten relationships with both Microsoft and Google. After all, Lenovo is ultimately trying to upend Apple in emerging markets.

If these companies banded together in some sort of Android enterprise alliance, the combination could be formidable. The issue is that team Android can't put together a one-stop partnership the way Apple and IBM did. Few companies have been able to combine forces to woo the enterprise. Cisco and EMC with VMware and Intel have been able to combine forces so they resemble one enterprise unit with VCE, but does anyone really expect a bunch of Android players to coordinate that well?

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