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Is Android in the business world to stay?

Jon Gold | April 3, 2013
Security, fragmentation concerns persist, but Android smartphone and tablet choice a big lure

The numbers also show that Apple tablets are more desired by the IT workers surveyed, by a ratio of about 2:1. (As a side note, there's a surprisingly large amount of interest in Windows tablets, outstripping both Android and Apple.)

Clearly, while Google's platform has made progress in the business world, there are major hurdles to overcome.

iOS users dipping toes into Android

The case of one user, who primarily uses iOS but has taken baby steps toward Android adoption, is illustrative. Banner Engineering is a Minneapolis-based manufacturer of industrial equipment like sensors, machine safety systems and wireless controllers. The company's enormous selection of available products -- more than 30,000 individual SKUs -- means that providing detailed information on each one is a challenge for sales representatives in the field.

"The old story was our sales reps and distributors would travel around in their cars with trunk loads full of literature and product material," says IT Director Kellie Christensen. "If you go to a customer and they ask about a certain product application opportunity, you may or may not have that material handy."

Obviously, this was far from an optimal solution, so Banner embarked on a project that brought these reams of documentation to the digital realm. The company now issues iPads to sales staff, who can use them as a reference and presentation tool.

"One of our specialties is [working] with our customer to specialize products -- so we'll have a standard product ... and if they need a slight modification to that product, or even an extensive one, we work with that customer to create what we call product specials," Christensen says.

With just one device manufacturer to support, iOS seemed like the logical choice.

"Internally, we chose iOS because it's a lot more predictable, a lot more secure. It's really been quite easy for us to support," she says. "We're a smaller shop, we have a smaller IT group here, and [Android] would just be too much for us to support."

However, Banner works with channel partners as well as its own sales staff. And not all of those partners wanted to use the iPad. Christensen says that the company used a third-party developer to translate the app over to Android.

The process was pleasantly straightforward, she notes.

"It actually was fairly easy to port [the app] over to Android devices. The biggest thing that we were dealing with from a design standpoint was that the screen was different ... and making sure that those buttons were still friendly to use and that everything could be seen on the screen," Christensen says.

Mobility vets: Don't sweat security, fragmentation too much


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