Here’s How Samsung Hopes to Beat Apple’s iPhone With Business Users
In what may be one of tech’s worst kept secrets, Samsung on Tuesday unveiled its new Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones.
Also unsurprising: The company announced its new DeX docking station, which is designed to tie those devices into the user’s corporate environment.
The stakes are high for Samsung (SSNLF) after a tough few months dealing with the recall of flammable Galaxy Notes 7 models. With this smartphone and docking station in tandem, the company hopes to persuade users that it bridges the divide between consumer and business devices better than Apple’s iPhone.
Among U.S. businesses, the race really is between Apple (AAPL) and Samsung on the Android side, said Maribel Lopez, founder of tech consulting firm Lopez Research.
Kevin Gilroy, executive vice president for Samsung Enterprise Mobile, told Fortune that Samsung must satisfy two key audiences here.
“CIOs have two constituencies: their bosses and boards around security and cost, and users who want to be delighted,” he said in advance of Tuesday’s New York event.
The new phone and dock—which Gilroy said will be deployed in hotel rooms, airport lounges, and other corporate venues—will take some cost and security concerns off the table. He did not name any partners in this arena. Pricing on the dock was not available.
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The dock gives corporate users a new Android desktop that lets them get into their corporate applications, write or edit documents, watch videos, and deal with email, Samsung said. Samsung worked with Citrix (CTXS), VMware (VMW), and Amazon Web Services to ensure access to those companies’ virtual desktops.
DeX can connect with either the Galaxy S8 or S8+ smartphones through a myriad of options, including Bluetooth. The station sports two USB ports, an Ethernet port, and features fast-charging technology.
Lopez was particularly happy about the ability to connect the phone to outside devices.
“We’re having this war on ports. I know we want to make things thinner and lighter but sometimes I need to freaking plug something in,” she said, hinting at her exasperation with the lack of connectivity options on other devices.
Analyst Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, said the docking stations are not really new. Asus and Motorola have tried them in the past, but in his view, their timing was off.
But now, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor in the new smartphones is powerful enough to deliver most of the PC experience needed in a normal workday, Bajarin noted.
“Carrying your PC experience in a smartphone that can power a monitor and keyboard on the desktop makes the smartphone even more versatile to IT users,” Bajarin said.
Overall, Lopez said Samsung has a good shot at making progress against Apple iPhone in this hotly contested corporate market. One reason is that it seems to be doing a smart partnership with Microsoft at a time when Microsoft’s own phone strategy has pretty much fizzled.
“The phone is fighting to become the computer interface for both consumers and enterprise users,” Lopez said. “Samsung is trying to surface Windows apps easily, to make this solution more compelling than Apple’s.”
In her view, this is important because Microsoft Office 365 is spreading in big companies, explaining that “people wildly underestimate the amount of control Microsoft will have when more people move to Office 365.”
If Samsung can be Microsoft’s best partner on the mobile side, it has a good shot of luring corporate accounts away from Apple, Lopez suggested, especially because she sees more costly Apple iPad and iPhone refreshes coming up for big accounts.