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Google has an opportunity to get serious about security with Android 5.0

Chris Nerney | April 24, 2013
Key Lime Pie offers an opportunity for Google to fix one of the biggest holes in the open-source OS - security features baked into the Android kernel.


"Anecdotally, the vast majority of companies we talk to that are standardizing on Android are using Samsung," Jamie Barnett, senior director of product marketing for Citrix's Zenprise mobile security division, tells CITEworld.

Further, Samsung appears to be distancing itself from Android, failing to mention Google's mobile OS at the recent unveiling of the Galaxy S4 smartphone or in ads for SAFE. And Samsung is working on its own mobile OS, Tizen.

This seemingly would leave Android on dangerous ground in the enterprise.

"I do think that the lack of enterprise device management and security tools is beginning to affect device preferences, steering users and businesses to OEMs that offer them like Samsung," says Chris Silva, a mobile analyst with Altimeter Group.

"I'd like to see Google step up their game in the security space, including some sort of device tracking, but also some features for enterprises," he says. "Ignoring enterprise management and security needs was one area where Apple got skewered in the early days of iOS."

Now it's Google that's getting skewered, and Silva says the company's failure to adequately address security concerns could cost it.

"Missing a chance to build some level of feature into Android paints Google as a consumer-only play with Android and forfeits the opportunity to drive sales of higher-end devices, the type sold to users that tend to also be looking to take their devices into the workplace," he says.

Bajarin says he "can see Google adding support for fingerprint sensors - the kind that embeds in the screen - and even better facial recognition technology to recognize and authenticate a user. This is at least a start but again in this case it would have both consumer and potential enterprise appeal."

Beyond adding a handful of specific features, Bajarin says he doesn't "feel Google is going to go way out of their way to cater to corporate buyers."

"Google seems to like to leave it to the open market to create and crown a winner in any given category," says Silva. "Perhaps they want to let the market determine who is best-of-breed prior to an acquisition as a means of getting some free R&D."

Which could be the best explanation for the Google Android security mystery.


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