Google is buying Divide (Formerly Enterproid), a startup that makes technology that divides personal data from enterprise data on Android phones, for an undisclosed sum. It's a clear signal that Google is taking Android acceptance in the workplace seriously.
"The company was founded with a simple mission: Give people the best mobile experience at work. As part of the Android team, we're excited to continue developing solutions that our users love," reads a message to customers on Divide's website.
Divide's product works by providing employees a secure, contained workspace, separate from their personal apps, with all the enterprise data and tools they need -- including a mail client, browser, cloud file storage, and so forth.
The personal stuff stays personal, and IT gets a secure container to manage. It's BYOD that even works when the user is borrowing someone else's device. This similar "containerization" approach has been taken by several other vendors, including BlackBerry, Good Technology, and Samsung.
The Apple iPhone tends to be a favorite of IT administrators when it comes to BYOD because its one-size-fits-all, locked-down architecture means that policies are easy to institute and enforce with just the out-of-the-box tools. By contrast, Android's fragmented platform has always made it difficult to administer, given the vast differences between devices and versions of the operating system.
This has created huge opportunities for third parties, including Divide: Samsung Knox builds a security management platform solution right into the manufacturer's phones, while Good Technology provides a more platform-agnostic solution.
For Google, bringing Divide into the fold represents a commitment to building out its enterprise appeal. Building Divide's technology, including its device management aspect, into Android has the potential to make the platform easy for the IT department while remaining flexible for users.
Google once before seemed to show interest Android in the enterprise in 2011, when it bought Motorola Mobility, including 3LM, which created a set of standard mobile management APIs for Android phones. However, Google essentially let 3LM wither on the vine, then licensed the technology to mobile device management vendor BoxTone in 2013; Boxtone in turn was acquired by Good earlier this year. Meanwhile, Google is divesting itself of Motorola Mobility, but looks to be getting more serious about supporting the Android platform in the enterprise -- or at least ensuring that Samsung doesn't dominate that market.
Divide had raised $25 million total prior to this acquisition from investors including Google Ventures itself. The company is promising that existing customers won't see any disruption in service under the new ownership.