Samsung Looking To Elbow Past BlackBerry In The Enterprise

Samsung needs to overcome questions about Android security as it tries to steal business and government customers from BlackBerry and Apple.
BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
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Samsung's boardroom ambitions are anything but a secret. The company is pushing hard to make its brand appeal beyond consumers to businesses that order devices by the hundreds or thousands.

Samsung is doing far more than just airing commercials during the Super Bowl. It has built a team of enterprise sales execs, some of whom were stolen from BlackBerry itself, in order to win over businesses.

The crux of the matter, and the real hurdle for Samsung, is security. BlackBerry and its devices are known for their government-grade security. In fact, BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry's new operating systems, was FIPS 140-2 certified long before the first device launched in January. This means BlackBerry 10 is secure enough for use by federal and state government agencies.

[ There are other companies in this battle. Read HTC One Can Compete With Apple, Samsung. ]

Samsung's devices are not, but it is trying to change that. According to a lengthy article in The Wall Street Journal, Samsung is working with General Dynamics in order to win support from the NSA and the Pentagon's Defense Information Systems Agency. If it scores approval with those agencies, it has a chance of broader adoption by local, state and federal government employees.

The security issue hinges on Google's Android platform. It is viewed by many as less secure than BlackBerry OS and iOS, and Android has yet to receive FIPS or any other type of security certifications that would put business customers at ease.

For the time being, Samsung is selling a stop gap called "SAFE" -- or Samsung For Enterprise. It can be used by businesses to add an extra layer of security to its Android-based smartphones and tablets.

Beyond the security problem, however, Samsung has another hurdle with respect to enterprise sales: Apple.

According to recent data published by IDC, 50% of smartphones shipped to corporate customers during 2012 were Apple iPhones. More organizations and governments are dropping BlackBerry and switching to Apple's smartphones. Only 10% of enterprise sales during 2012 were BlackBerrys, while Samsung scored an impressive 16%. (The fact that Apple outsold BlackBerry five-to-one in the enterprise during 2012 is probably worth its own story.)

Samsung's chances of keeping ahead of BlackBerry's sales in the enterprise are probably pretty good. It has a much wider product range with respect to smartphones and tablets, and has developed strong brand appeal outside the boardroom. It is the number one provider of mobile phones worldwide. Unseating Apple, or even just winning over some of Apple's share, is going to take a lot more work. Apple has been aggressive with enterprise sales and recently won a contract at Home Depot for 10,000 iPhones.

Given Samsung's size and strengths, it has a real chance of becoming the de facto enterprise mobility provider, but it has to get around the security issue first.