Smartphones optimize

Why Googorola could mean faster enterprise adoption of Android

The combination of Google and Motorola may be just the catalyst required to make Android devices acceptable in the enterprise.

As usually happens when a big tech news story hits, there are waves and cycles of reaction, reactions to the reactions, and noble attempts to curate all the discussion. Google's plan to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion was a nearly perfect example. The reactions went something like this:

  • "Wow! They said they weren't going to make their own phones, but now Google owns a phone maker! Here comes the Ultimate Android Phone!"
  • "No, silly, it's all about patent protection. They need that trove of intellectual property to defend their Android partners from the other big, litigious players."
  • "But there's so much more to it than phones! We haven't seen all the angles yet, like set-top cable boxes for Google TV!"
  • "No, but seriously, it's going to be something big for the next wave of Androids."

Reading the New York Times' piece on how app makers are reacting, it's fair to say that we're in the late stages of curation, with some parties seeing the Motorola acquisition as a bold, risky, but ultimately stabilizing force for Google's products - especially Android.

The Times' piece presumes that Google will do with Motorola what many expect it to do: create standard-setting, top-of-the-line phones that can keep up on the hardware side with Google's rapid software revisions.

App developers would appreciate seeing standardized hardware features, semi-consistent resolution and screen parameters, and, perhaps most of all, fewer problems from trying to make their software work on older versions of Android which are still available on phones being actively sold by carriers. The story leads with an example of a mobile dating app that asks users to "bump" phones to trade information, which doesn't work so hot on phones made by major Android partner HTC.

But the key quote comes from a developer that works with big firms that have stuck their toes in the Android enterprise market:

"This is a great move for Google to get into the hardware side. It stands to help developers a lot," said Dave Swartz, co-founder of Medl Mobile, which has 55 employees and has built apps for, among others, Monster.com, Kaiser Permanente and Emirates Airlines. He and others said that working with Motorola might help Google understand how to make Android work better with all kinds of hardware.

As pointed out later in the piece, Google's close relationship with Motorola - technically run as an independent entity, but nobody's imagining a steel curtain between the two - doesn't mean that other manufacturers like HTC, Samsung, and LG won't continue to be hit-and-miss in supporting newer Android standards. But if Google and Motorola can lead the market with phones that appeal to consumers, and especially deep-pocketed enterprise firms, that may change quickly.

It's even more promising that the next major Android release due out, Ice Cream Sandwich, standardizes the Android interface and many of its features across phones and tablets. It also builds in features for hardware, like front-facing cameras or Near Field Communication (NFC), which allows phones to be used like wallets in purchasing goods and picking up coupons. With tablets and phones running much the same interface, and with the maker of Android having a direct pipeline to a leading hardware maker, businesses can be a bit more assured of long-term support and regular hardware updates.

That's not to say that Android is suddenly going to be the belle of the ball among enterprise hardware buyers. Its encryption offerings doesn't match up to RIM's BlackBerry line, its Exchange support will never quite be what Microsoft's Windows Phone will offer, and it's only inching its way toward the iPhone in pick-up-and-use elegance. But with a bit less entropy in the hardware pipeline, and a chance to unify and promote their platform that's recognizable on any phone, Google, Motorola, and Android are starting to look more natural in a suit and tie.

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About

Kevin Purdy is a freelance writer, a former editor at Lifehacker.com, and the author of The Complete Android Guide.

4 comments
Jambotech
Jambotech

I'm still amazed that bloggers haven't tackled the problem of Android not being able to access an enterprise network using IPSec with Cisco equipment. Android still does not allow IPSEC group authentication and password, which is required on Cisco gear. iPhone does this out-of-the-box. Hopefully, this acquisition will now get Google of the dime and give us enterprise users the capability we have requested since the first release of Android. Google "Issue 3902" and see the thousands of requests for this functionality.

ivank2139
ivank2139

Having recently purchased an Android Tablet and smartphone I can say my biggest disappointment is how fragmented android seems to be. So many apps seem to work fine on some phones and not on others. Same thing for the Tablet. This lack of a consistent interface to the hardware and libraries in android for making it happen is a problem. The good thing is that it is a problem Googorola can solve. By creating what amounts to a reference implementation they should be able to help android developers quite a bit.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Of course there will be faster adoption. Now that Googlre "manufactures" their own phone they will stop at nothing to make sure the enterprise accepts it. I wouldn't even put it past Google to tweak the Android OS to make the Motorola phones run better than other Android phones. Oh ya. It is not Motorola but Motorola Mobility. Motorola split in two at the beginning of the year - or you don't read other blogs and news items from this site? [Or just bad blogging.]

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What is the official mobile device platform in your organization? What factors went into deciding on that platform? Do you think it is time to reconsider that decision?