Droid X has enterprise potential, at least when it has Froyo

Android 2.2 to come later, along with Flash 10.1

The Droid X smartphone was unveiled Wednesday, and its backers declared that it has enterprise potential, even when used as a multimedia player, with its spacious 4.3-in. screen, 1-GHz processor and ability to support an Adobe Flash 10.1 player.

Adobe Systems Inc. CEO Shantanu Narayen described Version 10.1 of the Flash player, which will be available as an over-the-air update to the Droid X later in the summer, as "not just available for consumers [but] frankly for enterprise." He said large businesses are retooling their internal applications "to take advantage of the engaging [multimedia] experience."

The Droid X smartphone
The Droid X smartphone.

The new Motorola Droid, which goes on sale July 15, has other business-focused features as well, according to Verizon Wireless Chief Marketing Officer John Stratton. One is that it can be made into a Wi-Fi hot spot for up to five users for $20 a month on top of the $30-a-month cost for unlimited access to EVDO data, and a minimum $40-a-month voice plan. The device itself will cost $200 after a $100 rebate and a two-year customer agreement with Verizon.

Other business-focused features will come via Version 2.2 of Google Inc.'s Android operating system, or Froyo, which will also be available as an over-the-air update later in the summer. The first Droid X devices will ship with Android 2.1, however.

Those Android 2.2 features include support for both Exchange and Gmail, and push delivery of e-mail. Also, Version 2.2 supports a corporate directory with a global search capability and widgets to differentiate work from home e-mail. The security protocols of Version 2.2 allow IT shops to remotely control complex passwords and wipe a device clean through an Exchange server.

"People love the consumer capabilities but also want access to enterprise mail, and that's really important," said Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha. "This is much more meaningful stuff for CIOs."

As much as Droid X was described as being geared toward business users, analyst Jack Gold of J.Gold Associates LLC today issued a technology brief that declared Android in general as "not ready for the enterprise" -- not even Android 2.2. He called the new version better than Android 2.1 in terms of security, but added that Version 2.2 "still suffers a lack of real enterprise-class policy enforcement ... and poses a significantly greater risk to enterprises than other major mobile OSs."

Gold said that a major drawback with Android for business use is that it doesn't meet the security requirements of government users. He also noted that there are problems with encryption of stored data.

There are third-party security enhancements available for Android, he added, but they aren't as mature as those available for the iPhone.

Gold said that Motorola has the technology to add security features to the Droid X, but it isn't clear what those features will include.

Gold also said he doubted that most enterprises would buy the Droid X for its Flash capabilities alone, despite the assertion of Adobe's CEO. "Video in most enterprises is beyond the [app] deployment horizon," he said.

Despite his reservations, Gold said that the Droid X "should be a pretty hot phone, with a big screen and HD video as well as a fast processor." The increased size will be a bit bulkier than some users want, he said.

Verizon and Motorola have not released the actual dimensions of the device, although many specifications are listed on Verizon's Web site.

Much of the publicity surrounding the Droid has focused on its 4.3-in. display with 854x480 resolution and its ability to record 720p HD video. Motorola's Jha also noted there are three microphones that include noise cancellation technology because "people still use phones for phones, and they like making and receiving calls."

Gold said he expects Android phone sales to surpass those of iPhones in the next one or two years. The Droid X is just one of 11 Android phones made by Motorola, including the original Droid, which launched about nine months ago, Jha said.

Google's vice president of engineering, Andy Rubin, said there are dozens of Android devices on the market, with 160,000 sold a day. "That's a lot of phones based on Android," Rubin said. "It's everybody's OS."

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 mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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