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Android Gets New Tools to Help Win Enterprise Adoption


While Android has been a market leader in handset sales over rival iOS, it has trailed Apple (AAPL) in enterprise adoption. But a couple of new tools announced by Motorola (MMI) and AT&T (T) may help close the gap for Google’s (GOOG) operating system and allow Android to thrive in the new era of bring-your-own-devices.

Motorola’s subsidiary 3LM, which it bought in February, has finally launched its security, management, and remote access platform for Android devices that provides BlackBerry Enterprise Server-like support for devices. The service, which can be controlled through a server console, allows IT managers to control the devices they support and protect corporate data while still enabling users to bring their own devices, something more and more workers are doing now.

Specifically, 3LM will enable:

  • Device encryption of full memory and SD card data; selective encryption of corporate applications; remote wipe capabilities and whitelist/blacklist of applications; and control of applications’ access to corporate resources.
  • Enhanced security and control of device, OS, and applications; remote installs of critical enterprise application; device tracking.
  • Secure remote access to enterprise resources and device health and status checking.

The 3LM software, which has been in trials in the first half of this year with government, health care, retail, and education customers, will go on sale this month. Motorola also announced a new enterprise tablet called the ET1, a rugged tablet with a swappable battery, business apps, and an HTML5 Web-based developer environment called RhoElements.

Meanwhile, AT&T announced a new application called Toggle that allows workers to create two modes for their Android devices that separate business and personal use. The technology appears to be based on software from Enterproid, a company I profiled, which just raised $11 million.

Segregating Work and Personal Use

With Toggle, users will be able to segregate their personal usage on the device, which allows them to keep data such as text messages and Web and app usage private from IT managers. When it’s time to work, users can enter work mode and access corporate e-mail and applications, and all the work environment data can be managed by IT managers. From a Web portal, IT managers can remote wipe enterprise data from a device; add, update, or delete business apps; and control employee access to company resources.

Toggle works for Android 2.2 devices and higher and will be available later this year with any service provider. The plan is to have Toggle work on other platforms in the future.

The new software solutions help Android in a world in which 60 percent of companies support devices brought in by their employees, according to Forrester Research (FORR). Forrester also recently found that 48 percent of information workers buy smartphones for work without considering what their IT department supports.

In this new era, iOS has proved more popular than Android with workers and IT departments. Good Technology, which offers a popular mobile device management service for non-Research In Motion (RIMM) devices, said in the second quarter of this year that the iPhone represented two-thirds of all smartphone activations while Android smartphones represented the remaining activations. When tablets and smartphones were tallied together, iOS commanded 75 percent of activations compared with 25 percent for Android.

IOS has had more early success with users, and it has been well received by companies, which have been incorporating iPhone and iPads at a high rate. Apple, for example, said 93 percent of Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying iPads. The iPad’s success over its Android tablet rivals is a big part of the iOS’s lead in the enterprise. But better management tools that augment what already exists on Android may help boost Android’s acceptance in the enterprise, more likely with handsets at first but perhaps more so down the line with tablets.

Also from GigaOM:

The Future of Mobile: A Segment Analysis by GigaOM Pro (subscription required)

Amazon to Book Publishers: Welcome to the Jungle, Baby

Clay Christensen on Steve Jobs and the Trouble with Venture Capital

Are You Ready for Androids with Retina Displays?

A Cheat Sheet of Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Players

Ryan has covered personal technology and wireless for the San Francisco Chronicle and now writes for GigaOM.

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