Samsung, others push Android security to take on Apple in the workplace

by Kristen Nicole

Android’s finding every way possible to take center stage at Mobile World Congress this year. Among the notable details revealed is the whopping 450,000 apps currently in the Android Market, with over 1 billion app downloads every month. That’s a huge increase from MWC last year, where Android reported a mere 150,000 apps in its marketplace. Google’s proud of Android’s 250 percent year-over-year growth rate, with some 850,000 devices being activated every day. But Apple still dominates certain areas of the mobile market, such as the business sector. Android’s growing ecosystem hopes to change that.

Samsung eyes enterprise territory

Security on Android devices undeniably leaves something to be desired. This is one of the reasons corporations are slower to adopt Android devices as work phones. The inconsistency around built-in security factors puts the responsibility on the company itself. At MWC there’s a handful of software companies displaying their own solutions to make Android more secure, including SAP and VMware. Even Samsung, the biggest maker of Android phones, says reducing security risks would give them a chance to overtake Apple in the enterprise.

“We recognized that we need a new growth agenda for Samsung, which is going to enterprise,” said Bum-coo Cho, who heads Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung's enterprise business team. “Samsung will put a significant amount of effort into generating business from the enterprise sector.”

Making Android work at work

Android’s rising security demands have already given third party companies like Lookout and Symantec ample opportunity to drum up business, and enterprise-specific solutions open a new door for spreading Android’s reach. Samsung will be partnering with SAP to address mobile security in business environments, which also gives corporations affordable alternatives to BlackBerry and iPhone. According to Gartner, Android smartphones are increasing their presence across the board, like it or not. iPhone’s share also rose, while fewer employees brought in devices running Symbian or BlackBerry.

While Samsung has SAP on its team, LG turns to VMware to develop hardware that essentially separates the business and personal sides of an Android device. VMware is also working with operators Telefonica and Verizon for separate billing of private and business calls.

In the end, such differentiation could be a big boost for Android devices. Android’s open platform has been cause for concern, but also offers the flexibility needed to create enterprise-specific solutions that could be tailored for individual businesses.