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The new Android platform is generating a lot of excitement from developers and consumers alike. Indeed, more than 30 technology and mobile companies have shown their enthusiasm by joining the Open Handset Alliance, www.openhandsetalliance.com, to develop products based on the first truly open mobile smartphone platform.

Despite the buzz, though, there is a significant barrier to widespread enterprise adoption of Android, and in fact, most smartphone platforms: their general lack of enterprise-grade security features. While it might seem like we're picking on Android, we don't mean to: it is by no means an exception to the rule. The sad fact is that while phones are getting smarter and more ubiquitous (in fact, they now greatly outnumber PCs), attacks on mobile platforms are growing geometrically. And most smartphone platforms still don't offer even rudimentary security measures such as VPN or encryption for data at rest.

Carmi Levy, senior VP for strategic consulting at AR Communications, notes that Android has "little chance of an enterprise play until security concerns are settled." This is a non-trivial issue; even very popular devices with high customer satisfaction ratings, such as Apple's iPhone, have found it difficult to penetrate the enterprise market because of security problems-both real and perceived.

"Android's security issues are pretty significant. Because of the open nature of the OS, programmers have access to core functionality they wouldn't be able to access when dealing with platforms such as BlackBerry, Windows Mobile or the iPhone's OS X."
-- Wilson Rothman, Why Android Is Bad for Business

Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates has likewise said: "Businesses' acceptance of Android devices will be greatly influenced by whether or not such devices have basic security, such as native encryption."

There is broad agreement that the BlackBerry has been embraced by the business community in large part because of the BlackBerry's robust security model. However, consumers' satisfaction with their BlackBerry devices is much lower than that enjoyed by the iPhone: 54 percent vs. 79 percent. We can presume that a primary reason is the difference in the iPhone's "Wow!" factor. As the smartphone market evolves, what's needed are phones that pay as much attention to security as RIM has, while paying as much attention to the user experience as Apple has. We think this presents a unique opportunity for Android developers. But in the wider view, smartphones are no longer immune to Internet malware and hacking, and the enterprise customers will not permit unsecured smartphones on their networks anymore. Smartphone manufacturers need to start taking security a lot more seriously, and fast.


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