Android for Work – What Does Fragmentation Mean for Companies

Globally, Android has the largest market share, but for many companies the operating system remains too fragmented.

Globally, Android has the largest market share, but for many companies the operating system remains too fragmented.

Globally, Android easily secures the largest part of the pie in terms of the mobile operating system market share. However, there is no such thing as “just the one” Android operating system. It is far too fragmented, meaning that countless different versions are in circulation. While this is mainly irrelevant for consumers, it creates a serious problem for companies, especially in the areas of security and productivity. Improvements are however on the way and with Android for Work, Google now offers a helping hand.

Fragmentation – The Eternal Problem

That Android significantly suffers from fragmentation is nothing new. Meanwhile, with Nougat, we’ve reached version 7.0 of Android. However, when ranked globally, several variants of Android 4.0 (which was released between 2011 and 2013!) are striving for the top place when it comes to the ranking of individual Android versions.

Apple shows how it can be done better. With the release of a new iOS version, all compatible devices get an update recommendation, which the user can then follow. This leads to a rapid rollout of the latest iOS versions. Even Microsoft, which has hardly had a resounding success with Windows 10 Mobile, manages to distribute updates much faster than Google.

This essentially leads to two problems:

  • Security is drastically compromised for businesses where outdated Android devices are used. In the Bring Your Own Device era, employees unintentionally create the biggest security loophole just by using their outdated Android smartphones and tablets in the company. Faster updates by the manufacturer would resolve this issue. Enterprise mobility management allows you to manage this problem, but not eliminate it.
  • A second problematic area is compatibility. A single version of the operating system on mobile devices means that apps and other systems (such as corporate cloud services) always work. The current situation means that developers must either take into account these obsolete Android versions or choose not to support them. Both of these scenarios are far from ideal.

Fortunately, there are some bright minds working at Google who have long recognized this problem.

A Business and Productivity-Focused Android System

Android for Work should end fragmentation or at least allow secure, productive use of all Android smartphones. The purpose of Android for Work is to make life easier for those providing enterprise mobility management solutions – especially in the following areas:

App Security

Specific apps can only be installed via Google Play for Work. Decision makers in IT can also prevent that apps from unauthorized sources end up on mobile devices and configure and installed apps remotely. A large security loophole – namely the users themselves, who are not always aware of the implications of their decisions, is finally closed.

Data Security

The interface allows you to create special work profiles, which are separate from the private profiles on mobile devices. This also benefits employee privacy – personal data remains protected with IT admins having no access to e-mails, images or similar data. At the same time, there is no risk that business-critical data ends up outside the business.

Device Security

Devices that are compatible with Android for Work have hardware-based disk encryption as well as lock screens with high-level passwords and the ability for the use of remote certificates. If a mobile device is lost or stolen, there is no longer a risk posed by a potential loss of data.

What Does the Future Hold? Android for Work is an Important Step.

With its exemplary update policy, Apple won’t be removed from the throne overnight. Android for Work is however, a significant step in the right direction. It takes care of two major question marks for IT decision makers – security and app compatibility. Recently, Google and the device manufacturers have become faster when it comes to rolling out new versions – this forms the base for gaining a foothold in the business market. A single operating system environment is not currently on the horizon. Due to the billions of devices in circulation, that goal is still a good bit away, but in the coming months and years we are sure to know more.

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