Will IT need to limit which devices can connect to the corporate network? It feels like we're heading for separate Internets, aligned with mobile OSes and their respective clouds.
The battle for the hearts and minds of smartphone buyers is getting bloody as the combatants -- Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, HTC, Nokia, BlackBerry and others -- open their war chests and spend vast sums of money to take slivers of market share away from each other.
The guerrilla tactics to curry favor are already in play as seen in this video showing a "Microsoft employee" successfully talking the owner of a Samsung Galaxy S III out of her smartphone in exchange for a Windows Phone-based Lumia 920 (the fine print swears she's not an actor).
To the chagrin of Apple and its iOS mobile operating system, IDC reported last week that Android has gained market share at a faster rate than originally anticipated. "Android-based tablets expanded their share of the market notably in 2012, and IDC expects that trend to continue in 2013," the research firm said. "Android's share of the market is forecast to reach a peak of 48.8% in 2013 compared to 41.5% in IDC's previous forecast. Android's gains come at the expense of Apple's iOS, which is expected to slip from 51% of the market in 2012 to 46% in 2013."
The plethora of new hardware choices made available this spring alone promises to complicate an already somewhat challenging scenario for IT managers now wrestling with the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon. The situation was moderately manageable when it was just iPhone and iPad-toting employees begging for corporate email access. Although imperfect as an ActiveSync managed client (thank you Apple!), allowing iOS in addition to the then-corporate standard BlackBerrys was not a major sacrifice.
But once iOS got its foot in the door, it was only a matter of time before all sorts of devices running all sorts of operating systems demanded access. Thankfully, the challenge of managing heterogeneous pools of mobile devices resulted in the birth of a relatively new cottage industry (that of mobile device management, or MDM), which includes fast-maturing players like Soti, MobileIron and Airwatch (the actual list is much longer). Knowing that these MDM players need finer-grained access to the underlying device functionalities than what ActiveSync typically provides, the forward-thinking hardware players are building management APIs into their smartphones and tablets.
To date, Samsung appears to be the most forward thinking of the mobile device companies. It has built its SAFE and Knox management and security platforms into its devices to better serve the needs of enterprises and the MDM solutions providers that serve them. Earlier this year at CES, Tim Wagner, Samsung Mobile's VP and GM for enterprise sales and marketing, told me that Samsung believed so strongly in the importance of its management platforms that the company's ads for its devices would emphasize the manageability of their devices. Wagner made good on that promise.
As seen in the photo below that was recently captured off the wall at Boston's Logan Airport, Samsung is appealing to BYODers and IT managers alike with a SAFE-compliant ad for its Galaxy Note II phablet and Galaxy S III smartphone. The SAFE logo stands for "Samsung For Enterprise" and in Samsung's wildest dream, IT managers will tell employees that the only devices they can BYOD are ones that are SAFE-compliant.
Of course, setting a corporate standard like that wouldn't be in the true spirit of BYOD. But as BYODers attempt to introduce more devices to the corporate network, it may only be a matter of time before some boundaries have to be set in order to fulfill reasonable expectations of both support and compliance.
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