There are several reasons that the Android operating system created by Google has not had great acceptance in the business world. These reasons are both company-based and technology-based, so it is not an issue of either the technology or company being solely responsible for this reality.
Google Makes Android Relevant
The recent announcement of Google’s upgrading of its mobile operating system parallels that of its competitor Apple’s announcement of its own iOS 8 release. The message being sent is that Google is now taking its Android operating system more seriously, and with that step there looms a battle for the business market share of smartphones between the two companies.
One of the glaring weaknesses that have made companies run from Android and into the arms of iOS is the complete apathy of Android owners towards security – a must-have for any business. Android primarily is owned by individual users where insufficient security is usually a complaint but does not cost them meaningful dollars. Google fixed this immediately by making encrypted security a default setting with the new Android L. This step and the recent acquisition of several security companies is sending a message that Google is serious about Android security.
Despite these actions, businesses are still wary of integrating Android as a business solution. One reason is that the OS has an uneasy tendency to be vulnerable to malware attacks, much like the Windows devices are. Another issue is cross platform compatibility, which is iffy at best.
What is equally troubling to businesses is the woefully small number of apps available for the operating system. This is in part due to Google convincing Android users that apps can be free and high performing at the same time. It is not that Android does not have any apps at all, but those that do exist have not been the result of extensive developer investment. Contrast that to Apple who has their iWork version for iPhone and the nervousness of business is justified.
A Core Foundation Trumps Customization
Businesses would be more likely to accept Android if the company shifted its emphasis to being manufacturer friendly to business friendly. Manufacturers such as Samsung and HTC customized the operating system with their own services – and had Google’s blessing to do it. That has changed, with Google now placing greater restrictions on the customer services manufacturers can include while bringing in more of its own services as the foundational package. This step will offer a consistency that businesses and developers can work with.
The Conventional Wisdom
A common line of reasoning about Android L is that by Google making these changes in product and attitude, businesses will be more willing to introduce their company to Android as a viable business alternative. But in many businesses, change does not come easy and there is already an established base of iOS in many companies. Cost is always a consideration, but security and reliability are trusts that are earned over time. Whatever the reasons for Android’s isolation from business, being received warmly is not a given.
Another factor is time. While there may be some truth that developers investing in a serious Android makeover, it will take years to catch up with the apps already available on the iOS platform. During this time Apple is not likely to stand still. Add to this the possible blowback from Android’s key manufacturers who now have to live with a more restricted development environment, and Google may find that, like its Google Plus social media ad-venture, users are too connected and have already established their connections with friends and family to change horses in midstream.