Aaron Levie, chief executive of enterprise cloud storage company Box.net, is calling Google’s mobile operating system Android the winner in the enterprise tablet race despite dominating play from Apple’s iPad and the imminent release of BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion’s PlayBook tablet.
The next version of Android, Honeycomb, will be optimized for tablets — which will bring about a whole new wave of enterprise applications for Android tablets, Levie said. He said the more open development ecosystem would mean more support for enterprise applications and a larger IT community developing applications for Android. Android’s focus on having multiple carriers would also end up being a plus for enterprise tablets — since most tablets are shipped with 3G capabilities today.
Box.net’s chief executive does have a bit of a penchant for firing from the hip when he gets excited about some kind of new technology. He might have a point, given that Android’s development ecosystem is traditionally more open than Apple’s highly regulated App Store. Then again, that’s excluding Google’s recent tussle with online arcade developer Kongregate, whose app was brought down without all that much fanfare.
But the argument doesn’t seem to hold much weight when you look at the raw statistics. 80 of the largest companies in the world on the Fortune 100 list have already begun testing or deploying iPad applications. Those applications typically don’t end up on the App Store but still have to go through a digital signing procedure that Apple oversees before they can be distributed to employees in the company.
Android devices also only account for around 30 percent of enterprise activations, while Apple’s devices account for 65 percent when excluding Research in Motion’s dominating presence in the enterprise space. Android’s growth in the enterprise space has also stalled a bit while Apple’s is still growing, according to the same report. And both of those numbers are dwarfed by Research in Motion’s 55 million customers — a large chunk of whom are enterprise customers. Research in Motion’s tablet computer, the PlayBook, is also due out some time in March.
Box.net launched its Android application in the fourth quarter last year and said it wants to focus on development on Google’s mobile operating system to make it as slick as its current iPad and iPhone versions. Box.net is actually working with Samsung to ship the Box.net application with each Wifi-enabled Galaxy Tab tablet, Levie said at the company’s most recent launch event. Since launching, Box.net has picked up around 70,000 downloads on the Android marketplace — compared to around 250,000 downloads on Apple’s App Store.