The iPhone has been getting all sorts of attention as the possible Blackberry-killer in the enterprise market of late. But the device has faced objections from corporate IT departments based on its rudimentary security features, closed operating system, provider lock-in (AT&T) and lack of available enterprise-ready applications (those last two being closely related factors).
But Apple isn't the only technology company getting into the phone business. Gadget fetishists and open-source fanboys alike have been getting into a tizzy over Google's Android open source mobile phone operating system.
With all the critiques of the iPhone as the enterprise mobile device of choice, how will Android-based phones (which, as an added bonus, will be available from a number of manufacturers) fare?
Although their open nature certainly opens up possibilities for enterprise applications to be developed for Android, those applications aren't here yet, any more than they are for the iPhone. The Android interface, on the other hand, while far from terrible as mobile devices go, certainly isn't up to the standard that Apple has introduced.
The experience of other open source mobile OS projects suggests that these strengths may not be sufficient to break in to the enterprise space. Linux based phones, after all, are not exactly a rarity: OpenMoko and LiMo already have phones out running their open source software, none of which have exactly swept the enterprise mobile market.
Does the fact that Google is behind Android make any difference in this equation? Probably not. Google is good at introducing disruptive new technologies, but tends to rely on others to actually spread them. Their handling of Google Apps is a case in point; advances in introducing it on the enterprise front have been lackluster and half-hearted, and the company seems to have more or less given up after finding no rapid success. Android may be a technical marvel, I don't know, but if no one champions it to the enterprise market, it's unlikely to get far. Google still seems to have a "if you build it, they will come" mentality (as well they might, considering their effortless take over of the search market) that results in a lot of effectively orphaned products. Android may be the next.