Android’s Canadian popularity means IT should rethink BYOD plans

Hold the iPhone 5; research from Ipsos-Reid indicates Google-based devices have become the predominant choice among users. Understand the corporate considerations

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There was a joke going around on Twitter last week when Apple launched the iPhone 5 that other technology vendors should take a day off from announcing any new products or services. What we didn’t realize, in Canada at least, is that Google Android devices may not need a lot more media coverage.

A study released this week from Ipsos Reid showed a surprising difference in smartphone adoption rates across the country, with Android, rather than iOS, leading by a substantial margin. Examining data from online surveys conducted over the last year and a half, Ipsos-Reid found that iPhone usage had grown from 23 to 29 per cent, but Android had risen to 36 per cent of all users.

This casts an entirely different light on what IT departments might have been expecting following the iPhone 5 launch and the subsequent hype around its record pre-orders. If Android represents the No. 1 choice for users, that means they will also likely be the smartphones most requested as part of corporate bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs. And with that come a host of other possible implications, such as:

  • The one-to-many problem: Say what you will about Apple’s proprietary nature, but for IT and network managers there is some comfort in having only one version of a device to worry about as you offer access to network resources. This is probably why, for example, Yahoo is issuing iPhones to every employee in the U.S. But if iPhones are the devil you can get to know, Android is the devil in the details. Between Mototorla, Samsung, LG and others, there are nuances to how the platform takes shape at the device level, and what IT might be expected to support.
  • Security just got serious: Android has been plagued with concerns about vulnerabilities for years, including the way that applications deal with Google service request authentication tokens. Just last week a report said 50 per cent of Android devices need patching. Years ago, in talking about Microsoft vs. Linux security, Steve Ballmer told me hackers always go after the most popular platform. He has that one right. iPhones look like Fort Knox by comparison.
  • Migration made easier? On the flip side, while companies that started on RIM’s BlackBerry (like Yahoo!) may be preparing to usher in a new incumbent smartphone, there is some consolation in that BlackBerry Mobile Fusion will allow management of Android devices in a way similar to those familiar with BlackBerry Enterprise Server. This capability is there for iPhones too, but given Android’s links to Google’s other services there may be more applicability here.
  • Ready for business: In a previous post about iPhone I mentioned Cisco Mobile and use cases around IP telephony. Cisco Jabber, meanwhile, has been available for Android devices for some time now, and was only recently extended to iOS. Cisco Jabber for Android Release 8.6.2, the most recent iteration, offers enterprise VoIP capabilities along with hooks into Cisco Unified Communications Manager.

Although a Gartner report earlier this year showed most organizations shying away from Android devices, it may no longer be a question of “is Android ready for the enterprise?” Canadian consumers aren’t willing to wait for Google to release APIs to mobile device management vendors or provide other tools to help secure the smartphones running on its platform. The best network professionals will start thinking about this now – even as the media spends more time tallying the numbers of people lining up for their iPhone 5 this Friday.

What other surprises might be in store for IT departments? Find out by downloading Frost & Sullivan’s free white paper, 6Technology Trends That Will Change Your Life

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  1. Perhaps we should review current strategies of trying to “manage and control” the devices being brought in, and instead focus our attention on establishing a BYOD friendly infrastructure and service model to facilitate agnostic device support. The premise around BYOD is to create cloud services and use virtual apps to mitigate security risks and allow for more “management and control” on the backend instead of enforcing and limiting user’s devices, therefore granting greater freedom and better adoption of the BYOD model.

    Lance Altena / 11 years ago
    • I have to agree. In the end, it’s not really about the device or the OS platform so much as the framework IT departments have put in place to contend with whatever consumer technologies make their way into the office. Thanks for the comment.

      Shane Schick / 11 years ago