Apple in the enterprise? It’s already there

Apple in the enterprise? It’s already there

Apple for years pushed, without much success, to get its hardware and software into the office

Apple CEO Tim Cook believes iOS devices have only begun to "scratch the surface" of what businesses "can do with our products."

Meanwhile, Jack Gold, principal analyst with J. Gold Associates, agreed – though he noted that Apple only has about five per cent of the desktop market, with Windows owning the lion's share.

While Apple believes it has an enterprise play, in reality it has a strategy but no firm tactic for gaining a significant foothold in the enterprise.

"So they really need partners like IBM, Accenture and HP," Gold said. "Everyone does stuff with Apple today because they have to.

"This really is just a realisation that Accenture has clients who use iPhones and iPads, so let's try to build a closer relationship with Apple. To some extent, this is really marketing as much as it is anything else.

"Is it significant? It's significant if you're an Accenture client, but it's not clear exactly what it's all going to mean longer term," Gold said.

According to research firm Markets and Markets, 50 per cent of businesses will have adopted a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategy by the end of this year.

As more businesses adopt some form of a BYOD policy, employees are using the smartphones and tablets with the simplest user interface.  According to Guis, that means iOS.

"Security is not something that was brought up by some of our customers. What I know is that some of them say user interface is critical in bring-your-own-device," Guis said.

Security, perceived and real, is in iOS's corner

As Blackberry left the hardware business and Windows Phone never achieved widespread adoption, enterprises weren't left a lot of choices, said Carolina Milanese, principal analyst at Creative Strategies.

"BYOD consumers just wanted iPhone," she said.

Along with the iPhone's organic popularity, Apple also did a lot to improve the security around its device, so that enterprise IT executives no longer had the ammunition to shoot down its use for business purposes, Milanese added.

"While everyone else was going out of their way to secure devices for enterprises, Apple was thinking about users," she said. "It didn't matter whether that user was enterprise or consumer."

Apple also had the advantage of perception. Real or not, iOS is seen as the more secure platform.

When Google initially launched its Linux-based Android mobile platform in 2007, it suffered from security vulnerabilities.

"And, there were issues around applications that were in the Google Play store that hadn't been tested or vetted for malware or questionable code," Baker said. And, as the most widely adopted consumer platform, Android is also overwhelmingly the biggest target of malware attacks.

Google has addressed Android's security issue through tools, such as its Bouncer malware scanner, which scans apps available in the Google Play store for malware.

And as part of the 2012 Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean" OS release, it has had a "Verify Apps" component that also scans all apps from third-parties for any malicious behaviour.

One problem, however, continues to plague Android-based mobile devices: software updates. That's because there are so many versions of Android, and the hardware is controlled by carriers, not Google.

"I had an Android device for some time that I hadn't been updating and I asked one of the major carriers for updates," Baker said.

"They'd send an update and I'd install it and then they'd tell me I had to wait 24 hours before I could ask for the next update.

"I'm about seven updates into that cycle now and I still haven't gotten to Android N yet. They make it a very cumbersome process, which Apple doesn't do."

Apple controls both its iOS hardware and software and can send update notifications to all devices, regardless of the operating system version.

"So, if you're going to have a bring-your-own-device program with your organisation, chances are very good that the enterprise is going to approve an iOS device because the enterprise perceives those as being more secure," Baker said. "It's not necessarily the case anymore, but that perception is still there."

This article originally appeared on Computerworld.

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