For the past decade, technologists have evangelized the impending mobile enterprise application revolution. While there has been tremendous progress in this direction in recent years - it is also true that the revolution hasn’t arrived yet. Today, mobile enterprise adoption is primarily limited to basic worker productivity applications such as email and calendaring.
But the revolution is just on the horizon and will hit us in the near future. On a personal front, I have recently acquired a tablet device that is already changing the way I communicate and collaborate with my colleagues. Tablets will provide a very rich business computing environment packed into a user friendly and light device. Favorable price-performance will accelerate the widespread use of such devices. In addition, the proliferation of 4G/LTE networks will feed the demands of resource-intensive business-critical applications which were a major bottleneck in the past. Finally, impactful technological developments in cloud computing and even HTML5 will help accelerate enterprise application adoption.
These technology developments will address the shortcomings that previously limited the adoption of mobile enterprise applications. Make no mistake, this will rapidly and profoundly change the way businesses interact with and support employee, customer and partner ecosystems.
Where does Android fit into the coming revolution?
Android has recently overtaken IOS for total user installed base - but its sheer volume of users does not tell the whole story. Android is winning the low-end consumer market. The success of its App Store has been muted and developers are still queuing up behind Apple. If Android can’t conquer high-end consumer market, how can it fare in the enterprise segment?
The answer is unclear, but Google and the Android OS are fighting an uphill battle. To stand a chance, Google needs to beat Apple and its heavy investments in popular consumer solutions. It also has to take on RIM’s recent tablet offering - the Playbook. HP with its WebOS and Microsoft with its anticipated tablet OS will also join this battle.
Android has emerged as a great platform that connects multiple devices such as phones, tablets and smart TVs. But, there are three key challenges it needs to face before it makes a splash in the mobile enterprise.
First, Android must reduce the constant software updates that are endemic to its platform. There are multiple releases of Android, requiring rapid changes in the hardware platforms, frustrating the end-users. As a result, the user often delays these updates and in turn, the QOS of the device suffers as applications become incompatible with the now out-dated version of the OS.
The second challenge is the level of differentiation that OEMs will be able to bring to their devices, and the ability to keep them up-to-date across different releases of Android. Operators are nervous about Android since the roadmap to the platform is dictated solely by Google, which is a competitor for some of their revenue sources.
The third challenge is the Android platform’s perceived security vulnerability. Reasonable security integrity is generally "good enough" for a consumer, but in regulated business environments a robust security platform is table stakes. To join the game, Google must address this shortcoming.
Do you think they can? Will Android dethrone the mighty Apple?