May 20, 2012, 7:48 AM — Adoption of Android tablets and smartphones in large businesses has been "severely limited" because of the complexities of managing the various Android models and versions, market research firm Gartner said in an evaluation of 20 mobile device management (MDM) software vendors released Friday.
A survey that Gartner conducted in April showed 58% of enterprises have or will make iOS, used in iPhones and iPads, their primary mobile platform in the next year, compared with 20% for BlackBerry and 9% for Android.
Google offers "weaker management support" for Android than Apple for iOS or Research in Motion for BlackBerry, Gartner added in its new 34-page study.
The broad-ranging study said the explosion in consumer smartphones and tablets used in workplaces is making MDM the "fastest-growing enterprise mobile software ever in terms of number of suppliers, revenue growth and interest from Gartner clients."
MDM license revenues were about $200 million in 2010 and $350 million in 2011, and are expected to reach $500 million in 2012, Gartner said. Research firm IDC recently said the revenues were higher in 2010, at $300 million, and expects the market will reach $1.2 billion in 2015. A principal problem with Android management capabilities, Gartner said, is that Google hasn't opened many application programming interfaces (APIs) for the dozens of MDM vendors to connect their various management tools to Android, Gartner said. In Android 4.0, Google only provided 16 APIs, compared to more than 500 APIs for the latest version of BlackBerry.
Some MDM vendors have built their own APIs for Android devices, but the process "is time-consuming and expensive to do for each device and version of Android," Gartner said. "This [problem] has severely limited Android adoption in the enterprise, and even today, very few enterprises provide [Android] support."
Google didn't respond to a request to comment. However, Android vendors such as Motorola Mobility -- which Google is acquiring -- have defended the security and management available in Android for enterprise uses, mainly through software from 3LM, a software vendor that Motorola acquired in 2011.