Fair or not, a long-running knock on smartphones running Google’s Android mobile operating system is that they’re not quite corporate enough for big businesses.
Google took another step to change that perception on Thursday with new “zero-touch” enrollment, which the tech giant says will make rolling out those devices in corporate environments much easier.
Compared to Apple (AAPL) iPhones, Android devices are hard to distribute en masse to corporate workers, says Nick McQuire, a senior analyst with CCS Insight, a London-based research firm. Apple’s device enrollment program makes it simpler for an IT department to distribute phones with all the corporate apps and security rules in place. Google had no comparable program until now, he says.
The beauty of such “zero touch” deployment is that IT can order devices and then automatically set them up with apps and corporate mobile device management without a lot of manual futzing. The devices then automatically comply with the company’s security settings.
In a blog post, Google (GOOG) says the zero-touch technology works with mobile device management from VMware (VMW), IBM, MobileIron, and Google itself. There is no mention of support for Microsoft (MSFT) Intune mobile management system.
The company also said it is working with carriers Verizon (VZ) and Sprint (S) in the U.S. as well as BT, Telekom DE in Europe, and Softbank and Telstra in the Asia-Pacific region, which all plan to support zero-touch deployment in the coming year .
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Anything it can do to simplify the use of Android devices in corporate environments is important for Google, which is pushing hard to get both its devices and software accepted in business environments, says Mark Bowker, a senior analyst with market research firm ESG. In that arena, Google competes with Microsoft and other vendors.
Apple iPhones have gained traction in corporate accounts, in part due to the aforementioned deployment program, but also because of deals it signed with corporate IT giants, including IBM (IBM), to ensure business apps work well on the platform.