We are often asked which business mobile phone vendors are best in the enterprise. Here is a brief rundown of how things stand with each enterprise-worthy mobile platform…
While there are so many phones to choose from – each offers advances in unique ways. You cannot shop for cell phones and take one product advantage to supersede the overall pros and cons of the entire device. Corporate IT security plays a huge role in adopting these devices, but this aspect can easily be overlooked.
Each mobile carrier has their own fee structures for Internet, texting, picture texting, data limits (which includes mail transfers and attachments), land line-to-mobile line vs mobile-phone to mobile-phone fee policies. Additionally peak hour usage should be considered along with the potential for integrated “Hot Spots”. It is important to understand what may be true for one carrier is not for the next.
The iPhone is well designed and secure, particularly due to their strict requirements for App design and developer membership. Many corporate executives spend more time performing their work and less time with gadgets. Many users claim the iPhone is infinitely easier to use than the majority of mobile devices on the market today. While the iPhone is semi-dependent on using iTunes for media syncing, software upgrades, and backups, the phone does not have to be attached to iTunes very often. There is current speculation that iCloud will offer most of the iTunes dependencies. The iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 battery life is better than the first release of the phone. It will last for over a day for normal use, heavy media use may limit the phone battery life considerably. For business purposes, it can maintain battery life for the better part of 36 hours with attached email account(s) and occasional daily phone use.
In the defense of Blackberry phones, while sometime considered ‘ancient’ and ‘behind the times’, both the software and the server component Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) is designed to be secure and give control to the BES administrators. Blackberry offers Blackberry Desktop Manager (BDM) to install on a desktop for media syncing, full device backups and outlook sync for those not using BES. If a company does not use BES, the BDM will be required for backups, contacts, memos and notes syncing as well as device restore. Blackberry devices are the most efficient with battery life and versatile with email delivery. They have designed a system that is both highly secure and quick to deliver and send mail. Additionally, their App store has rules and requirements and do not expise the phone to rogue downloads like the Android Market.
Fast growing, maturing and often tied to less expensive carrier plans, Android mobile phones are being updated and released at the fastest rate – compared to the other two device manufacturers. Android is an operating system that runs on many phones. These phones vary greatly in quality control and reliability. For the most part, the lower cost Android phones do not offer the reliability and features of an enterprise phones. Of the most expensive Android phones that seem to freeze the least and feel more reliable, only a select few are considered worthy of the enterprise. For an Android phone, a GMail account is required. From that GMail account, you can access calenders, task lists, notes, Google Docs, Photos (Picasa), and most other Google Apps. No additional software is needed for this syncing, and backups are automatic. The phones that come with Android installed have large bright screens and manufacturers are still struggling to figure out the perfect balance between long battery life and whole day functionality. For many corporate users, checking email and occasional daily phone use can run the phone out in less than ten hours. Additionally, as the batteries in these phones go through numerous recharge cycles, they have a more difficult time holding their ‘daily’ charge. This effect can be seen as early as four months into owning the phone.
While the hardware features of the Android-based phones are sometimes ahead of iPhone features – like screen brightness and size, the Android reliability and a lack of manufacturing and security seem to be points of contention in the enterprise. There are only a select set of current models considered to have reliable hardware: Driod, Droid 2, DriodX, Driod X2 and the Incredible. (See a decent comparison article of these devices at GeekSugar.)
While there are few successful attempts to break into the iPhone or Blackberry (typically only fake .PDf files), the Android phones are not as protected. A large part of this problem is a lack of auditing within the Android Market place. Additionally some feel that the design of the Android system allows apps to interact with one another whereas the iPhone environment does not allow this. Both Apple iPhone and Blackberry require developers to follow standards of content and program design, Android requires much less of this but from another developer sense, ‘more freedom’.
This is the single biggest concern for the enterprise and Android devices; security breaches. There are security vulnerabilities that can not only track calls and Internet activity, but they can record and deliver entire phone conversations to another location without the Android owner even knowing. Security vendors have released Android security software that can run on these devices, but a close look at each product should be reviewed. While touting free security apps, there is no requirement for these companies and their apps, and it is advised not to use free security apps on Android phones.
For true enterprise-grade Android security, consider requirements like Active Directory access, virtual machine integration, antivirus requirements and carefully review vendors who lead this sector like Good, SecureAuth IEP and Afaria
All of these phones offer Microsoft Exchange Functionality – meaning they can use Microsoft Exchange Servers common in the enterprise. Yet in the event of a loss of the device, it is important to consider how to revoke the phone information quickly and effectively.