In Wake of BlackBerry's Demise, CIOs Look to Samsung, Apple and Microsoft

BlackBerry's fall means CIOs must quickly develop a new mobile strategy. The big three of enterprise mobility are familiar names -- Apple, Samsung and Microsoft. Who will win out?

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Apple Now Recognizes the Enterprise

Let's start with Apple, which has shown signs of having a new appreciation for the enterprise. Apple recently released iOS 7, which is jam-packed with enterprise-class features, such as per-app-VPN, "Open in" management and enhanced data protection. Apple is also expected to release a critical "supervised device" service. For more on this, check out What Does iOS 7 Bring to the BYOD Party?

Apple iPhone 5S
Apple iPhone 5S

Despite dwindling market share due to rival Android phones, particularly those from Samsung, iPhones are still a favorite in BYOD circles. CIOs won't have the power to choose to support iOS, rather the decision will be thrust upon them. In other words, they must support Apple devices.

This isn't good news for CIOs who have been spurned by Apple in the past. Apple has traditionally made life difficult for IT by not providing product roadmaps and early looks at products before they're released to the general public. For instance, Apple hasn't released a date for its "supervised device" service, which has left iOS customers such as the Los Angeles Unified School District in a lurch.

Samsung Goes on Enterprise Offensive

Apple's recent overtures to businesses might also merely be a defensive move to take some of the sting out of rival Samsung's professed love for the enterprise, says Andrew Borg, research director at Aberdeen Group. Samsung hopes to counter Apple's consumer-friendly marketing message with an enterprise one.

Samsung's enterprise courtship is expressed in two ways: SAFE, which stands for "Samsung for enterprise," and KNOX, as in, Fort Knox. According to AirWatch, SAFE devices are enterprise ready with enhanced device-level security and management capabilities, while KNOX devices offer enhanced security and management capabilities at a container level.

"I think it's been a little confusing for the market," Aberdeen's Borg says. "They make great hardware. Their innovation around software user experience design is somewhat limited in part because they don't own the operating system."

Announced in February, KNOX put Samsung ahead of Apple in the enterprise security and compliance game. The enterprise market has been lucrative for Samsung, with high margins, large volumes and economies of scale, Borg says. "Apple had to competitively respond."

The downside to Samsung, of course, is that the company's phones are only a part (albeit, a big part) of the Android universe. Android in the enterprise has been flogged for its many flavors, security concerns and incompatibilities. KNOX, for instance, runs only on Samsung phones.

Microsoft Completes the Big 3 of Enterprise Mobile

Then there's Microsoft, which always seems to be hanging around the mobile market leaders despite so many missteps. "Microsoft will fill the gap left by BlackBerry in enterprise mobility, and they will increasingly compete in the mobile market alongside Samsung and Apple," says Bob Janssen, co-founder and CTO of RES Software.

The fall of BlackBerry has forced CIOs to re-think their mobile strategy. It also ushers in a new era of mobility: There will be no single platform going forward. MobileIron's Reges says IT department need to build teams and processes around the idea of "constant mobile migration, whether from OS to OS, device to device, or app to app."

"Your environment will always be multi-OS, and agility will be the key competence of the CIO of the future," he says, adding, "Not every CIO will survive this storm, but all have the opportunity to build disruption into a sustaining model for how to thrive in a world of constant change."

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple, BYOD and Consumerization of IT for Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Email Tom at

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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