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Is Android Right For Business?

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For those of you who read this blog regularly, you probably realize that I’m pro Android.  I feature reviews on iOS, Windows Phone, and Blackberry but I generally use Android for my business.   I have used Blackberry in the past and found it very useful.  But it doesn’t compare to Android, which has exploded and is the best selling OS today.

So, the question I’m looking at today is “Is Android Right for Business?”.

What is Android?

Android is an open source mobile operating system from Google.   The first Android phone was released in October 2008.  This was a year after the formation of the Open Handset Alliance which was a group of companies devoted to the open source platform.

Android is free which means any manufacturer can put out Android phones.  This is good and bad.  It means innovation but it also means Android is fragmented.

There are many flavors of Android and this can led to confusion for some users.  iOS on the other hand is completely uniform and since Apple has such tight control of the hardware and software, it leads to a more consistent user experience.

Android for Business Pros

Personally, I love Android because of the flexibility when it comes to customizing the user experience.   But is this a reason for businesses to adopt Android?  Here are some reasons for businesses to consider Android:

  • PriceAndroid phones and tablets are generally less expensive than their Apple counterparts.  This means that businesses can make the switch for less out of pocket expenses up front.
  • Document CompatibilityWith the large number of office apps available for Android, it’s easy to see that you can work on those Office docs on your Android tablet or smartphone seamlessly.  With Google buying Quickoffice, we can only guess that the integration will only get tighter.
  • Management Options There are several options for centralized device management (see links at end of article).  As these services mature, there will be greater control for managers when it comes to Android devices on their network.
  • Exchange ServerYes, you can get your Exchange email on your Android device.  (see links at end of article)
  • Wireless Tether I LOVE the ability to wirelessly tether my laptop to my phone when I’m not in wi-fi range.  This has saved me many fees when staying at certain hotels.  While many locations now have free wi-fi, it’s nice to have the ability to connect your laptop (and maybe your client’s laptop) if there is no free wi-fi available.

These are just a few advantages of using Android for business needs.

Android for Business Cons

Any open minded individual would have to see that there are disadvantages to using Android for Business.   For some users, these are too much to overcome and they choose Blackberry or iPhone.

  • FragmentationAs I mentioned above, Android exists in many flavors and the handset manufacturers usually add their own UI layer on top of Android.  This leads to many differences and results in increased support costs for an IT department.  
  • Shoddy AppsThere isn’t nearly as stringent examination of apps submitted to Google Play as the Apple App Store.   This leads to some questionable apps showing up on Google Play.   Your employees could potentially install some of these apps and compromise the integrity of your network.
  • Unreliable HardwareI’m not talking about Samsung or Motorola here.  I’m referring to the cheap tablets that seem to be flooding the market these days.  It may be tempting for a small business to purchase these once they see the low price tag, however, they simply do not hold up long term.

My Thoughts

I use my Samsung Galaxy S3 to do a great deal of my business on the go.  I have to admit that I have always been an avid supporter of Android…so I may be biased.  I find that the cons don’t really affect me.   Fragmentation is not as big an issue as it once was.  You can simply ensure that everyone in your company is on the same handset with the same Android version.  For every shoddy app, there is sure to be a great one…and many times…a free one.  As far as cheap hardware, you have to use your common sense here.  Purchase reliable brands that will stand by their product and you’ll be fine.

Here are some example apps

Centralized Device Management

Exchange Server

 

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About Author

Ben is a follower of Christ, a rabid computer geek, small business owner, and breaker of things. He is married way above his station in life and has three wonderful children who have made driving him insane their mission in life.

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