Android invades the enterprise

How three companies are coping -- even thriving -- amid the Android explosion.

As the little green robot known as Android wends its way into the enterprise, it's teaching useful lessons that are reshaping corporate attitudes toward the BYOD movement.

Analysts and CIOs say the multifaceted nature of the mobile operating system is forcing companies to make key decisions about what they will, and won't, control in bring-your-own-device programs -- and those decisions are in turn cascading across all operating systems and devices.

While Google's operating system has far surpassed Apple's iOS in worldwide mobile market share -- Android had more than 79% of the smartphone market in the second quarter of 2013, while iOS fell to 13%, according to IDC -- Apple still dominates the enterprise. According to a June 2013 activation report from mobile software maker Good Technology, 75% of the mobile activations at Good's Fortune 500 clients were for iOS devices.

Why? Corporate IT views iOS, a closed system, as a standard it can rely on. In contrast, the common wisdom is that Android's fragmentation makes it dangerous, difficult and costly for corporate IT to manage. As of July, at least 11,868 different Android-based devices were available from more than 1,700 different brands, according to a report by OpenSignal, which researches wireless networks and devices.

Android's huge consumer market share makes it a big target for hackers. It's also vulnerable because it has an open-source architecture and comes in multiple flavors. A July 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI found that 79% of all mobile malware threats last year targeted Android.

With statistics like that, it's no wonder corporate IT gets nervous about Android.

Inching Its Way In

Nevertheless, as IT departments start to embrace BYOD, it's only a matter of time before the predominant consumer mobile platform starts raising its profile in the enterprise.

There are signs that that is starting to happen. The percentage of corporate iOS activations has been declining. Good Technology reports that figure fell five percentage points since early 2012, while the share of Android activations rose by five points. In fact, Android tablet activations nearly doubled during the first quarter of this year, making up 12% of tablet activations, according to the report.

"It's inevitable that [Android devices] are going to be used for work, whether the company allows it or not," says Christian Kane, an analyst at Forrester Research. "So for any organization, it's not a question of if, it's a question of when and how."

Today, IT departments are all over the map in terms of when and how they allow Android into the corporate fold. "They might be still trying to figure it out, or they may be a ways in," Kane says.

Regardless of where they are on the Android curve, however, most enterprises know that the days of standardizing on one mobile operating system are over. "Everyone acknowledges that you have to be as platform-agnostic as possible," says Kane.

Story continues on next page >

Top Smartphone Operating Systems

Operating System

Q2 '13

Market Share

Q2 '12

Market Share
Year-over-Year Change
Android 79.3% 69.1% 73.5%
iOS 13.2% 16.6% 20.0%
Windows Phone 3.7% 3.1% 77.6%
BlackBerry 2.9% 4.9% -11.7%
Linux 0.8% 1.8% -35.7%
Symbian 0.2% 4.2% -92.3%
Others 0.0% 0.2% -100.0%
Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, Aug. 7, 2013
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