Apple's silence will let Samsung conquer the enterprise mobility market
If asked about Samsung ads that target Apple, most of us would immediately think of the campaign in which Samsung poked fun at the massive lines that form around Apple stores when a new iOS device hits the market. However, Samsung has been running a more indirect ad campaign against Apple -- one that has the potential to be much more damaging to the future growth of both the iPhone and iPad.
I'm referring to the ads about Samsung's SAFE program. As we've written previously, the SAFE program is Samsung's attempt to make Android devices into fully secured and manageable enterprise-grade BlackBerry replacements. The program is based on a series of APIs and other OS extensions to Android that significantly improve security and offer IT administrators the ability to implement over 300 security policies.
SAFE devices are created and marketed by Samsung. The company also works with mobile management vendors to certify their products are SAFE-compliant, meaning that customers can use them to implement and manage the SAFE policies on SAFE-certified devices. Several vendors have already been certified for the program.
The SAFE program isn't new. It's been around for well over a year, though until the release of the SAFE-certified Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note 2 the program hadn't garnered much attention. While the company had certified earlier devices as part of the SAFE program, these two devices were the first to launch with SAFE-branding.
SAFE devices will appeal to IT because they come closer than any other devices to emulating the sheer number of policies that IT had access to when managing BlackBerry handsets. Unlike BlackBerries, however, these are two of the most popular Android devices on the market. That means that they will also appeal to consumers. That's a powerful combination when it comes to mobile devices in any industry and regardless of whether the devices are owned by employees and managed by IT through a BYOD program or they are corporate-issued.
Apple needs to respond to the SAFE program
Apple became the preferred enterprise mobile platform over the past few years largely because the company introduced enterprise features in iOS 4. Those features included security APIs for developers, support for encrypted data containers as well as whole device encryption, and mobile device management (MDM) support. Apple's Volume Purchase Program, while not ideal, also offers the ability to bulk purchase apps and distribute them to employee devices.
iOS is still considered a safer platform than Android by many IT organizations. A lot of that is due to the company's very simple and transparent iOS update process, which is far more streamlined and much less prone to fragmentation than delivery of Android updates. That's mainly because Apple manufactures the hardware and the OS and doesn't let carriers modify either. Google on the other hand gives manufacturers and carriers a lot of leeway to customize Android, which means manufacturers and carriers need to vet updates and modify them if needed for each device. That introduces a lot of uncertainty about updates, which typically include important security improvements.
But these issues become less of a concern if devices are built and certified to meet enterprise requirements as in the SAFE program.
In an effort to create a somewhat consistent user experience across the phone, tablet, and desktop, Microsoft has forced the tile metaphor on the desktop and not done a terribly good job of implementing it. They're going to have to do a lot more than make cosmetic changes before Windows 8 is usable on a non-touch device.
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