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Google Android To Challenge RIM For Enterprise Users

The company will bake in more enterprise-friendly features into Android, but still may have a hard time convincing companies to ditch their BlackBerry smartphones.

Google will soon compete harder with Research In Motion to nab mobile professionals with its Android mobile operating system, according to Google's mobile director Andy Rubin.

Google's Linux-based mobile OS is on a handful of smartphones like the T-Mobile G1 and the myTouch 3G that primarily target casual consumers, but Rubin said Android could have more business-friendly features by the end of the year. The company plans to have bi-annual over-the-air Android updates that could add new services and abilities.

"Today we don't support many enterprise applications but in the future I think enterprise will be a good focus for us," Rubin said in an interview with Reuters.

One of the major beefs for mobile workers is that the OS initially did not have Microsoft Exchange support, but with devices like the HTC Hero, handset makers are able to layer in support for corporate e-mail programs. Baking this into the source code would make it easier for IT departments to allow Android phones on business networks, but Rubin said it may take a while for manufacturers to implement these features into their products.

The "Google Experience" Android smartphones will also have deep integration with Google's Web services like Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Apps. The search giant is also making a big marketing push to get businesses to use its Apps, and this could also help boost Android in the corporate space.

Google has a pretty steep challenge though, as Research In Motion is the dominant platform for the enterprise market due to its BlackBerry Enterprise Server infrastructure, push e-mail, and secure environment. A report from J. Gold Associates said RIM will capture nearly 60% of the enterprise smartphone market in 2011, while Android will garner 4.8% in three years.

RIM won't just stand still while Google attacks it, however, as the company has been making a strong push into the consumer side of the market with devices like the BlackBerry Storm and the Curve 8520. During its last earnings report, RIM said more than 45% of its approximately 28.5 million subscribers were non-enterprise users.

InformationWeek has published a 360-degree analysis of the first Android-based smartphone. Download the report here (registration required).

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