Android Isn’t Popular Yet With IT Managers

Android Isn’t Popular Yet With IT Managers

Lifehacker readers love Android, and current market share figures suggest it will soon be the biggest-selling smartphone platform globally. However, when it comes to choosing workplace phones, it still runs a distant third. What’s going on?Picture by Mike Babcock

Australia is running slightly behind the US trend of Android phones being the top seller. Local market research firm Telsyte predicts that Apple will account for 42% of the local mobile phone market this year, followed by Android on 18% and BlackBerry on 6%. However, that same enthusiasm isn’t seen when it comes to businesses purchasing phones for their staff.

In that space, according to Telsyte, Apple remains the dominant player, accounting for 44% of the market. Its main rival is BlackBerry, which covers 35%. HTC, the top-ranked Android player, is a distant third with 7%. In larger firms, the preference for BlackBerry is even more marked, accounting for 52% of purchases (with Apple accounting for just 25% and Android virtually invisible.)

The difference has more to do with the relatively slow speed with which most businesses adopt new technology than with an antipathy towards Android itself. Telsyte’s research suggests that iPhone implementations are often driven by user demand rather than a perceived good fit with business requirements. The ‘BYO’ approach is becoming increasingly common, despite IT concerns over management and security, and the uptake of Apple in businesses reflects its dominance in the consumer market. (The continued popularity of BlackBerry in business reflects its well-developed enterprise management and security options.)

As Android grows in popularity, it seems likely that some companies will adopt a similar approach and allow Android devices. Just don’t expect it to happen overnight, and don’t assume that every business will make the switch.

Evolve is a weekly column at Lifehacker looking at trends and technologies IT workers need to know about to stay employed and improve their careers.


    • I’m an Android fan but I’ve gotta say, iPhones UI looks way better than Androids. That and the fact that it’s only got 1 button rather than 4 are the only things that make it better. That’s just my opinion anyway.

    • When you look at the stills of a set-up Android homescreen vs the iPhone, absolutely. The iPhone looks old and boring. However, when you see them in motion the iPhone has a definite advantage. The animations are smooth, fast and extremely responsive. Thats where Android needs to improve.

  • Enterprise support (i.e. security, proper enterprise WPA2 proxy support, etc) is what is going to help but the vendors seen to do their own flavours of the implementation and support in this area. Unless it can handle these better they are going to continue to be slow in the enterprise (and many schools for that matter where user/password authentication is also used).

  • I’m an IT manager at a firm of 160 employees. Although we have a Corporate plan with Telstra, staff are entitled to choose their own handsets and 99% of those are iPhones.
    I have actively discouraged the use of Blackberrys, as we don’t run a BES and BIS is terrible as a corporate solution.

    iPhones work well for me because they set up in a snap and they’re all the same, so we don’t waste time telling staff how to use their emails – it’s either intuitive enough or they can ask their colleagues.

    Personally, I run Android for the flexibility. Can an iPhone do what a ‘droid can with Tasker installed? Hell no!

    • While I understand it’s your choice, you could allow for blackberries relatively easily. besx is completely free, and you’d be staying below the user cap. It’ll run fine on win2k3 or 2k8, and doesn’t use up much cpu as a vm (though it can steal a fair bit of ram). Of course, you could double up an existing server.

      I’ve done a few installs with exchange, and the whole process tends to take about 1-2 hours – set up/configure an AD account with the right exchange permissions, install besx, punch a few ports through the firewall, and then you can just sit back and use the web interface. You don’t have to bother setting up security policies and such if you don’t want to.

      The big downside, of course, is the investment of a day or so to install and learn your way around the system, and the addition of a vm/server you have to check in on and deal with complaints about.

  • Well for any phone to become a useful tool for me, they need to better support Windows authentication and PROXY EXCEPTIONS.

    Got an iPad for myself with the promise to my boss to road-test it at work and see if we can move some machines to iPads / non Windows devices. We can’t because Apple’s proxy support sucks. Android’s is no better either, and nobody wants to dive in and add these features (which, honestly, isn’t that much work)

    Our Intranet uses Windows Authentication for seamless logins and such, and neither mobile OS supports it, as it keeps coming up asking for a password, every time.

    It’s a wonder that IT managers use a phone at all for anything other than calls.

    • This is one of the reasons we’re not running mobiles through our corporate network. Everyone runs through NextG, saving the hassle of dealing with corporate proxies. I’ve closed access to the web to all but a couple of IPs (proxy server, web server), so they wouldn’t get far anyway.

      It means people can get on Facebook etc, but frankly that doesn’t worry me… I don’t need mobile traffic over my WAN too!

  • Android has no system wide support for a proxy 🙁

    My IT manager set a rule so my phone bypasses the proxy so I get unfiltered internet on it!

    • Unfortunatley non-existent. I’m pushing my IT infrastructure manager to branch out from RIM (Blackberry) but it’s an uphill battle. Hopefully Mango will give me the features needed to push my ITM ito using WP7.

  • As an enterprise IT engineer type – I’d really like to support Android in our offices, so I could use my phone on the office wifi network – but we shuffle all port 80 and 443 traffic through a proxy and it’s critical for operational stability that we continue doing that. Nature of our business means that providing unfiltered web access to mobile users wouldn’t fly at all unfortunately. Is the case for most enterprise IT environments I’d think.

    When Android fixes their implementation to support business, business might show Android some love.

  • As the IT lead at a company in Adelaide, I don’t support Android phones in our network, even though it’s my phone of choice. iPhones are just better suited for the corporate environment right now.

    Until un-rooted Android phones support adding third-party root CA certificates, and out of the box WPA2-Enterprise security, I can’t deploy them. Likewise, there’s no (non-third-party) way to do corporate rollouts, so far as I can tell. Apple, on the other hand, gives me the iPhone Configuration Utility and deployable configuration profiles.

    As much as I dislike the Apple product, I cannot afford to support Android.

  • 🙁 My uni doesn’t support android phones… Meaning the unlimited wifi they introduced is completely useless to me… (well not really, I’m just too lazy to tug my heavy laptop around).

  • If you root your android phone, i.e. I’m running Gingerbread on my HTC HD2, some custom ROM’s come with built in proxy support. I’m sure there is an app for this too.

    Honeycomb has Proxy support also.

    If you build it, they will come..

  • Our work launched a BYO smart device policy yesterday with iphone, ipad and SOME android phones. I think what’s holding Android back is the whole fragmentation issue. IT managers inevitably get called when smartphones start having issues. From a practical perspective, they can only support so many devices.

    THere is also the issue of compatibility. We use Good for Enterprise. With iOS it’s easy – one version to support. On android, different phones may have diffrent issues with Good – again, fragmentation.

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