First look: Motorola Droid, HTC Droid Eris are risky for business

Exchange mail policy support iffy, and security and configurability are subpar

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This silence mirrors the silence I encountered when I asked Palm, Nokia, and Apple similar questions about their devices. It's all but certain that Palm's WebOS and Nokia's Symbian OS do not support ActiveSync policies. It's a good bet that the Android OS doesn't support ActiveSync policies either. Apple's iPhone supports a handful of ActiveSync policies, based on the vague details posted at Apple's site. Windows Mobile devices support most ActiveSync policies, and the BlackBerry OS uses its own server to manage policies.

Given that more businesses use Exchange than any other enterprise-class e-mail server, the uncertainty over the Droids' level of Exchange support, the revelation that TouchDown inaccurately reports at least on-device encryption ActiveSync policy support, and the fact that the Droids don't support IBM's Lotus Notes or Novell's Groupwise secured connections, I can't imagine any responsible business or IT department permitting the use of the Droids for corporate e-mail access. Thus, for business e-mail use, RIM BlackBerry remains the most secure mobile device, followed by Windows Mobile, and -- in distant third place -- the Apple iPhone.

Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney wasn't kidding when she told me, "The [Motorola] Droid is primarily a consumer phone." (To be fair, the HTC Droid Eris makes no pretense, other than its stated Exchange support, of being a business smartphone.)

Security capabilities limited, management capabilities nonexistent

The Droids also have limited security capabilities. Both let you set up "pattern" security to access the devices at startup or after they time out: You set a pattern of finger movements on the touchscreen that acts like a password would. (That's harder for a thief to guess than a traditional password.) And the Motorola Droid lets you store credentials on the device and set an alphanumeric password to manage them.

And that's it. You can't set password strength requirements, enable remote wipe or auto-wipe after a specified number of failed access attempts, or control access to apps and Wi-Fi networks, as the iPhone, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry devices can do. (The TouchDown app does let you set a four-digit PIN before making e-mail, appointments, and contacts available.)

And -- like the Palm Pre and Nokia Nx devices -- the Droids have no management capabilities, such as remote provisioning from a management console, which lets IT set up and manage users' devices without needing physical access to the device.

BlackBerry and Windows Mobile have long had such capabiities. Although the iPhone dosn't have enterprise-level configuration capabilities, it does support e-mail and Web-based profiles that can be downloaded by the user for installation, as well as a management utility that lets IT administrators install such policies over a USB connection. That's much more than the Droids can do.

The bottom line is clear: If an IT organization considers the iPhone to be too unsecure or hard to manage, there's no way it could consider the Droids as supportable mobile devices.

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This story, "First look: Motorola Droid, HTC Droid Eris are risky for business," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile, Google Android, iPhone, and Microsoft Exchange at InfoWorld.com.

This story, "First look: Motorola Droid, HTC Droid Eris are risky for business" was originally published by InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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