Mobile Devices Enterprise Android Use 'Severely Limited'

Adoption of Android tablets and smartphones in enterprises has been "severely limited" by the complexities of managing the wide variety of devices and versions of the operating system, according to research firm Gartner.

A Gartner evaluation of 20 mobile device management (MDM) vendors said Google had "weaker management support" for Android than Apple or Research In Motion had for their respective platforms.

In a survey conducted in April, Gartner found that almost 60% of enterprises plan to standardize on Apple's iOS in the next 12 months. In comparison, 20% of enterprises said they plan to use BlackBerry devices and 9% said they had chosen Android.

A big reason why it's so hard to manage Android devices, Gartner said, is that Google hasn't opened many APIs to allow MDM vendors to connect their software to the operating system. Google offers 16 APIs for Android 4.0, whereas RIM makes more than 500 APIs available for the latest BlackBerry version.

Some MDM vendors have built proprietary APIs, but that's "time-consuming and expensive to do for each device and version of Android," Gartner said.

Google didn't respond to a request for comment about Gartner's report.

Some Android vendors have defended the tools available for managing Android-based devices. Those supporters include Motorola Mobility, which Google acquired last month.

Motorola Mobility offers 3LM MDM software, which it acquired in 2011. Version 3.0 of the 3LM MDM platform for managing Android 4.0- and iOS-based devices, unveiled in May, sports a new interface for IT managers, along with tools designed to prevent users from copying corporate data to nonapproved systems.

Gartner didn't include 3LM in its review because it considers 3LM an API builder, not a maker of true MDM software, said Gartner analyst and report co-author Phillip Redman.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on

Read more about mobile and wireless in Computerworld's Mobile and Wireless Topic Center.

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