Software vendor MobileIron announced the release of version 3.0 of its Virtual Smartphone Platform today, giving IT shops the ability to integrate mobile management with other enterprise-based systems.
The new version costs the same as version 2.0, which is $4 per user per month, MobileIron CEO Bob Tinker said.
At the heart of the new version is a Mobility Application Programming Interface. With the API, channel partners of MobileIron or enterprise IT shops could set up management capabilities for smartphones. These capabilities include provisioning smartphones with the appropriate applications for new employees, and linking the devices to a company's security infrastructure so that the chief security officer can track security breaches alongside other monitored systems in a single console.
The Mobility API can also be used to help a company track which smartphone applications are most widely used, and that information can be tied to corporate business intelligence systems for long-range planning, Tinker said.
With the proliferation of smartphones in corporations, Tinker said IT shops are facing an "app storm" of small or "micro" applications built by various groups in an organization. Tracking and managing the multitude of micro apps will become more important, he noted. "We're seeing a fundamental difference as to how apps get created [compared with PC-based apps], which bodes well for us," Tinker said.
MobileIron 3.0 works with the iPhone, iPad, and smartphones running Symbian, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry operating systems. Windows Phone 7 will be supported next year, and Android will be supported in version 4.0 later this year, he said.
MobileIron has about 70 corporate customers for its previous MobileIron versions, which have been selling for 15 months. Tinker said the company, with 75 employees, competes with mobile management software from Afaria, a Sybase division that is now a part of SAP, as well as software by Good Technology and McAfee, which is soon to be a part of Intel.
Chris Hazelton, an analyst at The 451 Group, said the main focus of version 3.0 is helping corporations manage employee-owned devices, making it possible for IT to monitor and wipe off only enterprise data if needed. Sybase, by comparison, offers iAnywhere Mobile Office, which encrypts data within the device.
"Vendors of all types are starting to look at the mobile device management space as a critical component of managing and outsourcing IT services," Hazelton said. MobileIron's Mobility API will also help makers of telecom expense-management applications connect smartphones to enterprises via MobileIron to give them cost controls for mobile devices. One example could be to give a mobile user a warning when an international roaming charge was about to be added, or disabling such calls altogether.
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.