How Samsung can tackle the mobile enterprise market

Reuters reported last week that Samsung hopes to make a big push into the corporate market in 2013, targeting the market that once was dominated by Research In Motion. While the South Korean company isn’t disclosing much in the way of strategy, it is quietly building corporate-grade devices running Android that are more secure and reliable than the typical consumer needs.
This is a wise move from Samsung, which recently took Nokia’s crown as the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile phones and which this week announced the sale of its 1 millionth Galaxy S smartphone. The mobile enterprise remains largely untapped as RIM’s grip has loosened, and Samsung clearly has the distribution and the carrier partners to take advantage. To fully capitalize on the opportunity, though, Samsung should deliver four key items:

  • A unified Android experience. The fragmentation problems with Android are well-documented (I explained why I abandoned the platform last year here), and those problems are only getting worse as the worldwide penetration of Google’s operating system increases. To make its line of Android devices attractive to enterprise users and IT departments, then, Samsung will have to deliver the same experience across its enterprise-centric devices, issuing Android updates to as many of its devices as it can as quickly as possible.
  • A store for Android enterprise apps. Google recently introduced a service that essentially enables Google Apps customers to create their own internal stores to publish and distribute their enterprise apps. But as InfoWorld points out, the new offering has some shortcomings: Businesses can have only one store regardless of how many domains they have in their Google Apps account, and they can’t publish apps to specific groups of users. Meanwhile, Samsung has seen some success distributing consumer apps for its own Bada platform – while Samsung Apps doesn’t get much attention in the U.S., it delivered its 100 millionth download nearly two years ago. Samsung could leverage that experience and improve on Google’s shortcomings to help businesses build their own app stores, enabling IT workers to better manage their devices and software.
  • Marketing a new brand. Samsung is well-known as a vendor of consumer electronics, of course, so it needs a new brand dedicated to its mobile enterprise business. That appears to be the idea behind SAFE – Samsung for Enterprise – which the company rolled out last week. If Samsung invests heavily to market the new brand, it can position its SAFE lineup as a ready-for-prime-time version of Android that can compete against BlackBerry and iOS in the corporate world.
  • Selling directly to the enterprise as well as end users. Samsung’s new initiative is clearly designed to leverage the BYOD (bring your own device) trend that has had a tremendous impact on businesses and other organizations in the last few years. But while the BYOD trend will surely continue to grow in 2013, we think some businesses will try to regain control of their mobile devices by opting for corporate deployments rather than accepting BYOD. That’s a market Samsung must be ready to pounce on by using its own salespeople to push SAFE products and services.

The mobile enterprise market is likely to be more competitive than ever in 2013: Apple and Android are riding the BYOD wave, Microsoft hopes to gain traction with its combination of Windows Phone, Windows RT and Windows 8, and RIM will attempt what would be a huge comeback at the end of the month with BlackBerry 10. But Samsung has an impressive arsenal as it joins the field in 2013. If the company can execute, it could move the needle in the mobile enterprise in a big way.