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Microsoft to make leaps in the mobile enterprise

Tom Kaneshige | April 1, 2013
Shocking developments in the mobile enterprise race show the market's incredible volatility, according to a new survey by Aberdeen Group. The survey looked at mobile app deployment plans by platform--Apple iOS, Android, Windows 8/Windows Phone and BlackBerry--covering both tablets and phones.

It's too bad, because Surface RT is a pretty slick device with a nice industrial design and user interface, Borg says. Among all tablets, Surface RT boasts the best integration with Office. It shouldn't matter that it's not tied to Windows 8 applications on the desktop. Apple iOS apps aren't compatible with OS X, nor are Android apps with Chrome OS.

"Surface RT was badly marketed," Borg says.

March of the Androids

Google Android smartphones and tablets are steadily marching into the enterprise. According to the Aberdeen survey, 23 percent of respondents plan to develop apps on Android tablets over the next 12 months, in addition to 40 percent currently deployed. And 17 percent plan to develop apps on Android smartphones, in addition to 55 percent currently deployed.

These numbers show incremental growth for the platform, which is nothing unexpected.

However, this doesn't mean that Android will continue to plod along. The survey was taken before Samsung announced the Galaxy S4 smartphone, which is expected to be released in late April. For the enterprise, the most compelling feature is KNOX, a dual-persona solution at the kernel layer. If the dual-persona concept takes off, then Android platform adoption in the enterprise could spike.

But dual-persona acceptance on the smartphone is far from a sure thing. For starters, dual-persona has been in the market for at least a year and has had negligible adoption in the enterprise. While dual-persona allows end users to securely separate personal data from work data on a corporate device, we're living in a Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, world.

"With BYOD, the company is going to put its data on your device and borrow some of your assets that you bought--RAM, memory, processor--all of which may decrease performance of your device," Borg says. "Will end users permit that? It's unclear."

Apple's Microsoft Problem

Apple's iPhone and iPad have been enterprise sensations, but there are signs pointing to challenges ahead. In the Aberdeen survey, 15 percent of respondents plan to develop apps for the first time on iPhone and iPad over the next 12 months, with 63 percent and 61 percent currently deployed, respectively.

"We're a little surprised that the numbers show it to be slowing down," Borg says. "Granted, three-quarters of the organizations are still developing for the platform, greater than any other platform. But it could be getting to a saturation point."

As the dominant mobile enterprise player with the biggest app store and the largest percentage of developers, Apple seems to be sitting in the catbird seat. The danger is complacency and lack of innovation. Think: Microsoft during its reign on the desktop.

Today, iOS is looking long in the tooth. Microsoft and BlackBerry have more advanced operating systems. Samsung has shown innovation advancing the Android OS. Where art thou, Apple? iPhone and iPad apps don't talk to each other, don't share data. In comparison, Windows Phone 8 supports inter-app communication, which makes for a fluid user experience.


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