As companies begin building and buying mobile applications, one your first major decisions should be: which mobile operating system(s) should you favour?
Apple iOS and Google Android dominate; combined these platforms account for roughly 90% of the mobile OS market. BlackBerry and Windows lag far behind. Still, churn is inevitable, and Microsoft’s strategy to converge the desktop and mobile user experience with Windows 10 will affect the dynamics of the mobile OS market.
When it comes to enterprise mobility, securing mobile devices and applications has become a top priority. The prominent handset manufacturers targeting the enterprise continue to add key security features that give IT the peace of mind to include certain smartphones and tablets on the list of approved devices for work. As more companies go mobile, the onus lies on IT to effectively manage those devices and implement the appropriate security policies.
The progress Apple and Google have made in augmenting their security posture in the last 5 years has made it an easy choice for CIOs and CISOs. But while Apple’s controlled approach dictating the cadence of OS updates, this is still a sore spot for Android, which is at the mercy of carriers for timely updates.
The iOS platform features robust, layered security elements starting with hardware-level AES-256 cryptography to provide full-disk encryption and fast remote wipe capability. Each application is limited in where it can write data and cannot access other applications’ data or code. To share information with other apps, developers need to communicate through APIs or other services. Plus, the core OS partition is sandboxed into a read only sector, which further prevents malicious programs from attacking the device.
A lack of professional services, support options and distribution channels has hindered Apple’s enterprise play, but this is changing quickly. The company’s partnerships with IBM and Cisco help give Apple the enterprise inroads it has lacked. Still, Apple’s security enhancements will keep iOS on the top of most lists when IT chooses which mobile OSes it will support – they’ve come a long way from being a recreational teenage cell phone of choice.
BlackBerry has brand strength among certain business users, and its play in the mobile market continues to revolve around its best-in-class security capabilities and enterprise-grade email and messaging. The company’s slow move to touchscreens and lack of developer engagement have significantly harmed its market share and threatened its longevity, but it has demonstrated progress by releasing a smartphone lineup with
Additionally, BlackBerry continues to excel in industries with rigorous security and compliance mandates such as government, financial services and healthcare. The vendor’s recent acquisition of enterprise mobility management (EMM) provider Good Technology will also help. Despite the naysayers, BlackBerry and it’s technologies will be around for just a few more years.
This year, Google made several important enterprise mobility announcements. For one, Google Play for Work, the enterprise version of the Google Play app store, will allow companies to provide access to enterprise applications from secure work containers on employees’ devices.
The Android for Work initiative provides those containers that separate personal and corporate data — ensuring secure access to mail, contacts, calendar, browsing and documents. That should help combat the idea that Android lacks security and is therefore an inadequate mobile computing platform for business. Still, Android for Work requires using a Google-approved third party EMM vendor to manage the corporate profile of a device. Most tier-one EMM vendors have partnered with Google, but the levels of integration vary.
Android 5.0 Lollipop includes security enhanced (SE) Linux, which serves as a firewall for all applications on a device. Android 5.1 includes device protection similar to Apple’s that keeps the device locked (even after a factory reset) until the user signs on to the corresponding Google account. This feature adds a much-needed security layer for lost or stolen phones. The most pertinent security feature in the upcoming Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS is the ability for developers to work fingerprint authentication into their applications.
Google’s acquisition of Divide in 2014 provided the company with the tools to build containerization, encryption and device management into Android. Susceptibility to malware will continue to be an issue for Android, but Google has provided IT with more control over device management and protection, which should increase its share of the enterprise mobile OS market.
Microsoft has worked hard to improve messaging with its Enterprise Mobility Suite. EMS includes identity and access management for applications through Microsoft Azure, along with encryption and authorization policy enforcement in Azure Rights Management Services. At its core is Microsoft Intune, the cloud-based EMM platform that helps IT control access to business applications on users’ devices.
Windows 10 is also critical for the company. In particular, the Windows Hello feature improves security by allowing users to access Windows devices via their fingerprint, iris or face. There’s also Passport, a feature that allows users to access applications, websites and networks without additional passwords following verification. Reducing the need for many passwords – which users can accidentally or purposely share with others – lowers the probability of a hacker accessing your device and information. Windows 10 also adds Device Guard, a security enhancement that protects against malware by blocking unapproved applications.
Don’t make mobile OS decisions lightly
Choosing which mobile OSes to support involves critical decisions about how to best approach device support, application management, privacy, user agreements and much more. These will be high-priority issues for the first few months and years until your employees accept the architecture you have chosen to invest in.
Choice of cellular carrier and the device(s) they prefer should also factor into your decision making. Don’t let runaway cellular data costs make you regret choosing one device over another. Using Big Data and smart analytics we’ve managed to save our clients over $4,000,000 in cellular charges alone. And, most importantly, if you want features beyond email, make sure you pick the OS supporting your industry’s software selection. Call us when you are ready to discuss what is best for your organization.