As much discussed, there are IT issues with iPhone and Android deployments in the Enterprise. We’re comparing these two phones because unlike Blackberry devices, the iPhone and Android are consumer devices first. Blackberry has always courted the enterprise and today offers their Blackberry Enterprise Server for managing Blackberry devices in the Enterprise while iPhone and Android have entered the Enterprise, at least initially, through the backdoor as individual consumers brought in their personal devices to connect to corporate resources.
So, if you are IT and you’re being asked to make recommendations on which devices your users should use, you also need to figure out how to support them. Should you recommend iPhone? Android? And how to manage them once you have them?
Operating Systems and Software Distribution
Let’s start by comparing the two operating systems and the software distribution systems. iPhone OS is a closed system, but has a robust SDK, thousands of applications, and only two ways to get applications on the device: Through the iTunes App Store or through a distribution provisioning profile that allows signed applications to be installed on a device. Each application has to be installed at the endpoint individually; there is no way to push applications to devices. However because every app is subject to Apple’s approval process or your signed certificate, the iPhone has remained malware free.
Android is on the other hand is an open source OS, but with an equally strong SDK, and a growing list of developers and available applications that are easy to get on the device. There are multiple ways to get applications on the device, signed and unsigned, and as a result there have been reports of malware targeting Android devices. This has opened a market opportunity for 3rd parties to provide software management, anti-malware, and device management services targeted at Android.
Devices and Variety of Features
On the device side, to date there are a limited number of iPhone devices, which physically are almost identical. This makes support a little more straightforward, whereas Android, because of its good economics for device manufacturers (i.e. “free”), comes in a rapidly widening variety. You can get them with keyboard, keyboard-less, different screen sizes, feature sets, etc. This can be a challenge to support.
Networks and Carriers
Related to the variety of devices, Android is available, or soon will be on all major carriers. iPhone users must use AT&T, at least for now. For the multi-campus enterprise, a single provider may just not work for all potential users. And then, what happens when your user travels to another country?
Blackberry has several OS5 devices out, Nokia is coming out with more Maemo/MeeGo devices, and Microsoft has previewed its Windows Mobile7 that will be out later this year. Recently, reports have come out showing that the velocity of Android entering the marketplace exceeds the initial surge of the iPhone. (Android outsold the iPhone in the first 74 days, or the time for the iPhone to hit the 1 million mark).
Android is clearly making in-roads into the enterprise (for recent data, look at the ” Mobile Worker Report “). Third parties, such as iPass, are planning to support Android. Apple is not about to willing cede any marketshare, so we anticipate new devices and new versions of their OS this year.
This is going to be a tremendous year for mobile devices, which means a busy year in corporate IT.