There are many conversations taking place, questioning whether the Google Android Operating System (OS) will be an Apple iPhone killer. My belief is that iPhone will continue to have the best hardware devices for the next few years and they will always have one of the best devices in the market. I think the company that is in biggest jeopardy with the influx of Android devices is RIM (Blackberry) and that the Android will begin taking a lot of U.S. market share from Blackberry. There are a few reasons why this will take place.
1) Google enterprise applications are getting a lot of traction with large, mid and small enterprises. The momentum of Google’s relationship with enterprises will allow them to have a direct channel to sell their Android devices, specifically the Nexus One. Side note: The Nexus One is a 1st generation phone and future versions will provide additional features which will allow them to be in favor with enterprises. I suspect that future models of the Nexus One will have a physical keyboard, a must have for many enterprise workers. HTC, who manufactures the Nexus One, has several phones that have a physical keyboard and have touchscreen functionality.
2) The Blackberry App Store is relatively small with 2K applications. Compare that to the iPhone which has 150K apps and Android with 25K apps. The Blackberry device is not suitable for heavy usage, primarily due to the form factor of device, screen size, and lack of touch screen functionality. The Blackberry does a great job for simple tasks such as email and calendar access, but many enterprise workers don’t use much of the other functions on the Blackberry. I predict that the enterprise workers will demand access to more applications and additional hardware features that Blackberry doesn’t do well. The lack of Blackberry’s success with their app store, provides an opportunity for Android to step in and become the destination for enterprise mobile applications.
3) IT managers have been reluctant to try the new smartphones for the enterprise. Blackberry has had a long relationship with IT managers, as the Blackberry has been in existence for 10+ years and the IT managers are used to working with these devices. It will take several years for Google to build a relationship and trust with IT managers. Part of the challenge is that IT managers don’t get comfortable with 1st/2nd generations phones where there are still some bugs to be fixed. Remember, the IT mangers want to reduce the amount of time they spend fixing things, so their perspective is that the Blackberry work fine, so why switch. IT managers need to have remote access to the devices, something that both Apple and Android are lacking, but are working on providing. There has also been some security questions as to whether the newer smartphone devices are safe for enterprises. There are several mobile security startups that will assist IT managers with security issues, such as Lookout and EnMoDa.
Blackberry has 36M subscribers, so they are certainly the leader for enterprise smartphones, but in 2011 I see Google Android OS smartphone getting a large adoption by enterprise IT managers. I found an article indicating that Gartner predicts the Android will be #2 player in global smartphones by 2012, so this supports my prediction to a certain degree. Yes, I know that I left out several major mobile players such as MS Windows Mobile, Palm, Symbian/Nokia. The iPhone is a great consumer device and will get limited traction with large enterprises.
As of now I think it is two-horse race to win the market share of enterprise workers with Blackberry and Android; in the long-term Android wins!