Which Mobile OS Is Best For Your Enterprise?

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Your enterprise wants to go mobile-first, but the obstacles – BYOD? COPE? What about liability and policies? – are deep and wide. Much like the employees you hire and the job functions they fulfill, mobile operating systems are not all alike and offer different, specialized functions for end users.

So which one is best for your enterprise? Which option will keep your business’s data most secure? It’s a decision that will positively or negatively impact the future of your business.

Let’s take a look at the options. While there are a variety of different modes and versions across dozens of devices and manufacturers, there are three major mobile operating systems built for scalable enterprise use.

An Apple A Day Keeps The Threats Away?

Apple’s iOS, now on its version 10, has long been known as the most secure mobile system thanks to a pre-screened app store. No applications can enter the app store – exclusive to Apple devices only – without being preapproved and tested by the tech giant. That means much less in the way of malware and threats headed in the direction of iPhone and iPad users in the enterprise.

The iOS proved its strength when even the FBI was unable to hack into a terrorist’s iPhone and spent millions on third party assistance to finally gain entry.

Apple devices, however, often run at a higher price point (not ideal for COPE-based businesses). But because of their heavy, global consumer base, will likely be the enterprise mobility weapon of choice in a BYOD setting.

Apple hasn’t put users completely on an island, of course. Gone are the days when Apple and Microsoft were mortal software enemies. With the built-in Boot Camp application, users are able to access Windows functions on their iPhone and iPad devices.

Invasion Of The Robots

Android was created by a small group of developers in northern California in 2003 for digital cameras. Clearly that didn’t happen, as the group quickly shifted its focus to smartphones and mobile devices as the market growth began to skyrocket.

But why the slow adoption in the enterprise? Security is a key factor. Android, owned by Google since 2005, is an open source platform. It’s easier for developers to sell their wares in the Google Play app store and at a lower cost, but comes with less provisions and security intercessions. So when a user downloads an app easily targeted by malware or PUAs, threats abound.

Where Android can trounce the competition, however, is its scalability across numerous devices from different manufacturers, which would be ideal in a COPE-based enterprise that can keep costs down. Android has also addressed its security issues of late by introducing a pseudo-containerization application in the form of Android For Work. The software functionality allows users to have separate profiles for personal and business applications, keeping the two worlds from colliding on the same device.

Why is security so important for Android devices? As of 2015, there were more than 24,000 Android devices manufactured by nearly 1,300 companies.

Can The Grandfather Of Platforms Compete?

Microsoft was the originator of platform software in the desktop world, and decided late in the game to chase the mobile dream. It has seen mild success, and now plans to go into hibernation, albeit to come back stronger and more useable – for the enterprise.

It was announced earlier this year Microsoft would be shying away from consumer-focused smartphones so it could hone in on making true, enterprise-grade devices.

A major pro for the Windows Phone, especially in business, is the latest OS of Windows 10, which has interchangeable apps that are able to be tailored to run across desktop and all mobile devices that operate on the system. Windows 10 has also hedged itself by become accessible with bridges to the aforementioned iOS and Android systems, making it simpler for app developers to work horizontally and move into Microsoft’s ecosystem without rebuilding from scratch.

Call it a hunch, but that sounds more like a SaaS provider than a smartphone manufacturer.

As for security, yes, Windows Phones are pretty tough thanks to full encryption capabilities. But that may also be in part to a smaller app store, less market share, and in turn decreased threats.

So what’s best for your enterprise? What do you value most for your employees: Security? Work-life balance? Mobile device comfort? As mobility grows, so do the options. Be sure not to bungle a decision that will frame the way mobility is used by your enterprise's workforce.