Motorola today announced management support for Android smartphones and iPhones in its latest software management tool, known as Mobility Services Platform (MSP) 3 Control Edition.
MSP is a three-year-old technology that has already been deployed to thousands of companies using Motorola devices -- including rugged handhelds -- that primarily run on the Windows Mobile OS, now called Windows Embedded Handheld.
IT shops use the software to manage handheld devices, including provisioning, upgrading and repair functions, from a single location. The software can also be used to remotely shut down lost or stolen devices, said Sheldon Safir, director of global product marketing for Motorola Solutions, in an interview.
Motorola is aware that more and more businesses want to bring in a range of smartphones beyond Windows Mobile devices, and so it decided to add support for the iPhone and smartphones running the Android operating system, Safir said.
Another big addition to the new version is the connection of MSP3 to Motorola's AirDefense wireless LAN network management software. With MSP3, remote devices can be managed, and wireless LANs can detect rogue devices and problems with access points, Safir said.
AirDefense will continue to be sold separately as well, he added.
GPS location information is also being added to MSP3 and can, for example, be used to see if a truck driver leaves a prescribed route.
IT shops can use the software to monitor devices for battery performance and even to gain remote control of a screen to help a user. "It's a much more powerful story than before," Safir said.
MSP3 costs $45 per user per year, plus a one-time server fee that Motorola did not specify. It is shipping now.
Safir said MSP3 could be seen as a competitor to handheld management products from Sybase and Good Technology, but he contended that "none are as comprehensive as this."
Stephen Drake, an analyst at IDC, said Motorola will chiefly benefit from MSP3 by selling it to customers that are already using Motorola devices and are adding devices running operating systems other than Windows Mobile. "Motorola has always had devices to sell, and they are now stepping up with software," he said.
Some management products on the market are designed for nonrugged devices, such as the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, so in a sense, MSP3 is a distinct product for both rugged and nonrugged handhelds, Drake said.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.