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18 Jun 12 Would Samsung ever leave Android?

The Galaxy S III from Samsung.


Samsung Electronics’ new CEO called for the company to redouble its focus on software, which could hint at a move away from
Android and toward its own proprietary operating system.

Samsung has long desired to push its own integrated hardware and software experience, investing in its Bada operating system and selling devices in select markets. But the popularity of Android, which powers its most successful smartphone and
tablet devices, including its flagship Galaxy S III phone, means the company can’t exactly quit the platform.

Samsung has been steadily investing in its own proprietary software, an initiative that new CEO Kwon Oh-hyun fully supports.

In his inaugural speech, Kwon said the company needs to have particular focus on serving new customer experiences by strengthening its software capabilities, user experience, and design, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A completely integrated product would allow Samsung to have full control over every detail of the device, and wouldn’t leave it so dependent on an outside company for the latest software. In addition, its own platform would allow it to stand apart from a sea of devices running on the same software.

The ideal scenario for such a model, of course, is Apple, which builds its own hardware and software with iOS. On the flip side, companies such have Research In Motion, Palm, and Nokia have struggled with their own proprietary software. Palm has largely disappeared, while Nokia switched to Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system, with the struggling RIM the only one attempting to stand apart with its BlackBerry operating system.

The pressure is likely on for Samsung to develop its own operating system now that Google has officially acquired Motorola Mobility, which means its partner will also be a competitor with the potential to access earlier versions of Android. Google has said it would continue to be neutral when it comes to Android, while Samsung has said it is looking forward to the legal cover Motorola would bring to the Android community.

Privately, Samsung executives have said they expect to compete with Google on the device front, making it increasingly important to differentiate. While Samsung already customizes Android a bit with TouchWiz, the company could do more to veer away from the standard Android user experience.

Whether that’s a good thing is unclear. Many Android fans prefer a “stock” experience, which leaves the software alone. But handset manufacturers believe they need to set themselves apart to avoid getting lost in the sea of generic-looking devices.

Samsung could take it a step further and move toward its own operating system. As the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world — outselling even Apple — it certainly has the heft and reach to pull it off.

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26 May 12 Google’s Motorola buy seen boosting Android in workplace

Computerworld - With the closing of Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility this week, talk of the possibilities for Android in the enterprise has spiked.

While Android has taken the consumer market by storm — the OS runs 59% of smartphones shipped in the first quarter of 2012 — IT managers remain wary that maintaining security and control of consumer Android devices devices used by workers may be difficult if not impossible, according to various surveys.

IT managers say they can’t get the Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools they need to control Android devices brought into the workplace by employees, analysts have said.

Gartner recently reported that it has found adoption of Android tablets and smartphones in large business has so far been “severely limited” because of the complexities of managing devices from multiple vendors running different versions of Android.

A Gartner survey in April found that only 9% of enterprises have made or plan to make Android their primary mobile platform in the next year. That compares to 58% of enterprises that use or plan to use Apple’s iOS and 20% who favor Research in Motion’s BlackBerry OS.

Some analysts say they are hopeful that Motorola’s 2011 purchase of MDM software maker 3LM will improve IT’s ability to manage and secure Android, perhaps in time for the release of the coming Jelly Bean and/or Android 5.0 versions.

Analysts say 3LM is not true MDM, but that its software includes a layer of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that could make Android work better with third-party MDM software, analysts said.

Though Google is expected to use 3LM to improve Android manageability, the company wouldn’t comment on its plans for the software. Many analysts expect to gain insight into Google’s plans at its Google I/O conference in late June.

Today, IT shops rely mostly on Exchange ActiveSync to manage Android devices used by workers for job tasks. However, analysts have said that ActiveSync lacks the sophistication required by IT shops.

“ActiveSync is a really low-end solution for MDM,” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates.

“Now that Google owns Moto (Motorola Mobility), I expect the Moto folks to start feeding back into base Android some of the technology they have developed. This is the primary reason that Google bought Moto, in my opinion,” Gold added.

Gold predicted that the addition of Motorola Mobility will provide Android with “much more capable management interfaces and APIs.” While that won’t help current and past Android versions, it will mean enhanced security at enterprise standards for future Android versions, he added.

“None of this helps the Android enterprise users in the short term, unless they decide to work with MDM from Enterproid and others like Good that have a ‘two-persona’ capability on a device,” Gold said. He explained that “two-persona” refers to the ability to partition data on a smartphone or tablets so that a user’s personal photos and music won’t be destroyed if an IT shops wipes off sensitive corporate data from a mobile device.

Full coverage: Google

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24 May 12 Microsoft wins Motorola Android ‘ban’ in Germany

Just days after Google closed its purchase of Motorola Mobility, Microsoft is seeking an injunction to ban the sale of  Android device sales in Germany.

The suit is based on Motorola’s alleged infringement of a text message patent held by Redmond. Of course, it’s also part of a German tit-for-tat battle between the companies — last time round it was Motorola that won a ‘ban’ on Microsoft’s Windows and Xbox sales.

The latest decision came through on Thursday afternoon from the Munich regional court. As usual, it won’t mean anything concrete until Microsoft tries to enforce it, which would require posting a €25 million ($31 million) bond. No word yet on whether Microsoft will do that.

What Microsoft spokesman Thomas Baumgartner did tell me was this:

“We are pleased the court agreed today that Motorola has infringed on Microsoft’s intellectual property and we hope Motorola will be willing to join other Android device makers by taking a license to our patents.”

Text messaging functionality is pretty fundamental stuff, but this isn’t one of those standards-essential patents that are supposed to be unusable as legal weapons.

It should be noted that Microsoft also won a U.S. import ban on Motorola’s Android devices in the last week, although the ITC also decided Moto deserved a ban on Xbox 360 imports a few days after that. The ITC rulings were preliminary rulings that do not go into force unless they are uphold by a large panel and then by the President.

In the past, the ITC has delayed the implementation of import bans in the mobile sector in order to allow companies to develop workarounds.

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23 May 12 What Google’s Acquisition of Motorola Means for Android

Google, a Hardware Company?

The first big change will be to replace Motorola’s chief. CEO Sanjay Jha is out, replaced by longtime Google employee Dennis Woodside, a man instrumental in the revenue growth of Google as a business over the last several years. Now his job will be to streamline Motorola’s smartphone product line, cut out the dead weight of Motorola Mobility and deliver on the Android geek’s wet dream.

Many pundits and analysts thought that when Google acquired Motorola, it was purely a patent deal. Google had just lost out on a boatload of critical mobile patents in the Nortel patent auction and Android looked more vulnerable to being taken down in the patent wars than ever. With Motorola in its war chest, Google all of a sudden had 17,000 patents from the company that basically invented the cell phone. With patents in hand, would Google spin off Motorola Mobility or sell it piece by piece?

Selling off Motorola’s hardware division doesn’t appear to be in the plan. If the search company were going to do that, Google CEO Larry Page likely would not have enticed one of his most effective lieutenants, Woodside, to take over. Yet, while the smartphone division will likely remain under Google’s control, other hardware aspects of Motorola Mobility, such as its set-top cable box segment, may go on the block.

“Many users coming online today may never use a desktop machine, and the impact of that transition will be profound – as will the ability to just tap and pay with your phone. That’s why it’s a great time to be in the mobile business, and why I’m confident Dennis and the team at Motorola will be creating the next generation of mobile devices that will improve lives for years to come,” Page wrote. 

Balancing the Ecosystem

To prognosticate the future of Motorola and Google, it is pertinent to look at the guidelines various government bodies put in place when approving the merger. For instance, both the European Commission (the European Union version of the Federal Trade Commission) and the U.S. Department of Justice concentrated mostly on the patents aspect of the merger. The U.S. DOJ was obviously thinking that Motorola/Google was a pure patent play when it approved Google’s acquisition, the sale of Nortel’s patents to “RockStar Bidco” (a consortium of Apple, Research In Motion and Microsoft) and Apple’s acquisition of Novell’s patents in the same ruling. 

“The division’s investigations focused on whether the acquiring firms could use these patents to raise rivals’ costs or foreclose competition,” the DOJ stated in its release. “The division concluded that the specific transactions at issue are not likely to significantly change existing market dynamics.”

While the E.U. and the U.S. focused on the patents aspect of the deals, China had different motivations when it approved the deal earlier this week. China stipulated that Google had to keep Android free and open source for at least the next five years. China is clearly looking out for its smartphone manufacturers in this deal, with Huawei, Meizu, Lenovo and ZTE pumping out versions of Android smartphones on a regular basis. 

An acquisition of this size, with so many global entities sticking their fingers in the pie, is a fascinating study on the global impact of Android. While Google does not directly profit from Android hardware (for now), there are billions of dollars wrapped up in the Android ecosystem. And this is where Google needs to tread carefully. It needs to balance its desire to streamline the Android process while also not alienating its OEM and carrier partners in the process.

One way to appease the Android ecosystem would be to spread the love when it comes to flagship Android Nexus devices. According to reports, Google will be giving early access of its next Android operating system, likely called Jelly Bean, to five different manufacturing partners that could then sell the device directly to consumers. One motivation for this would be to wrest control of Android from mobile carriers, such as Verizon and ATT (in the same way that Google originally had planned when it unveiled the first Nexus device and tried to sell it without the carriers). Another reason, and probably more important from Google’s perspective, would be that it could let Motorola create a quintessential Android Nexus device and avoid claims of favoritism.

Benefits of Motorola/Google Android Devices

The potential benefits of Google taking top-level control of the Android ecosystem are intriguing. Google benefits, consumers benefit, developers benefit. It remains to be seen if the carriers and other manufacturers will benefit, especially if Motorola and Google create an Android device that becomes a true “iPhone killer” and starts cannibalizing sales from other Android handsets. 

For consumers, the benefits are obvious: an extremely high-end smartphone and likely an equally impressive tablet that are streamlined to Android software and hardware specifications. The device would receive timely Android firmware upgrades and customer support from Google and Motorola. The very best of Android delivered at palatable price points.

Google benefits from these devices as well. It is hard to say that Page and the rest of the Google executives see the revenue that Apple is making from its iOS line of devices and don’t want a bigger slice of that pie. For instance, Apple made more in profit from its hardware last quarter than Google made in total revenue. 

This is not going to be easy for Google and Motorola. Google is moving into an entirely new product category and that comes with its own problems outside of the balancing act that has to be performed with the rest of the Android ecosystem. There are a lot of balls to juggle, not only in incorporating Motorola into Google, but creating a vibrant division that operates and iterates with a high degree of quality. 

What can be said is this: In many, many ways, the best thing to ever happen to Android will be Google’s acquisition of Motorola. Google can now defend its mobile operating system with Motorola’s patents and create dynamic devices with Motorola’s hardware. At the same time, the E.U. and U.S. have put in measures concerning litigation around essential patents and China has ensured that Android will remain open and free. There will be losers in the Android ecosystem, among them several mobile manufacturers and maybe mobile carriers, depending on how much control Google can exercise over the sale of the devices. 

When the Motorola deal was announced last August and Page said that Google wanted to “supercharge” Android, he was not being facetious. Google has a tremendous opportunity in front of it. The path is paved with daggers but the benefit to the entire ecosystem at this point outweighs the risks. 

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22 May 12 Why China Stuck Its Foot in Android’s Door

China’s antitrust authorities have approved Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) purchase of Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI), on the condition that the Android operating system remains open source and its code is made freely available to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Android devices had nearly 74 percent of the Chinese market in Q4, 2011, and that — together with Google’s large war chest, technical expertise and the high market barriers to entry into the mobile market — means Android is in a dominant position, China’s Commerce Department said.

“Our stance since we agreed to acquire Motorola has not changed, and we look forward to closing the deal,” Google spokesperson Niki Fenwick told LinuxInsider.

“Android is clearly a key platform for many Chinese manufacturers of devices, and the vertical integration of software and hardware between Google and Motorola appears to have spooked the Chinese,” Al Hilwa, a program director at IDC, said.

Terms of Android Endearment

The agreement will last for five years. Google will have to file a report with China’s Commerce Department every six months. After the five years are up, the department will reassess the situation.

Google must ensure that current and future versions of the Android open software stack are available under a free and open software license consistent with current business practices, China’s Commerce Department said.

However, apps on the platform and related services can be closed source.

Sharing Out the Android Pie

China requires that Google offers Android in a non-discriminatory manner to OEMs who have agreed not to differentiate the platform or create derivatives. Google also has to comply with the existing fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) rules governing Motorola Mobility.

FRAND is the touchstone of much litigation between companies in the mobile market, such as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Motorola Mobility and Samsung.

If market conditions or the state of competition in the market change, Google can apply to modify or rescind the requirements for free and open licensing and for offering the Android platform without discrimination to OEMs. Further, these two requirements will no longer apply if Google in essence doesn’t own Motorola Mobility.

“I’m not sure if Google had to take anything off the table to reach this agreement,” Michael Morgan, a senior analyst at ABI Research, told LinuxInsider.

Why Focus on Openness?

Android has always been open source, and “I don’t think there’s much danger of Google taking Android to a single hardware OEM or leveraging it in any way other than through open source and free licensing in the short term,” IDC’s Hilwa told LinuxInsider.

“You don’t compete with Apple with another fully integrated single device; you out-flank them with a diametrically opposed strategy , which is what Google succeeded in doing with Android,” Hilwa continued.

On the other hand, “think about the language and messaging Google has put around the Motorola [Mobility] acquisition,” ABI’s Morgan pointed out. “It’s a separate business unit and will be run as a separate business.”

If Google gave Motorola Mobility preferential or sole access to Android source code and ran for-fee services on the platform, it “will have hardware all the way up to the Internet, and that will be a lot of power for one company to have, seeing that Google pretty much owns the Internet and Android is strong in the mobile market,” Morgan said.

Where’s Android Going?

“Keeping it open should help improve the amount of features and stuff that are added,” ABI’s Morgan said. “There are Chinese versions of Android out there, and what they and Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) have done is just tweak Android; the core kernel remains the same.”

Being open “does not mean being unchanged,” IDC’s Hilwa asserted. “I expect Android to evolve vigorously over the next five years.”

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22 May 12 China Greenlights Google-Motorola Mobility Deal

Chinese authorities have approved Google’s bid to acquire Motorola Mobility, clearing the final regulatory hurdle in a $12.5 billion deal initiated in August 2011 that gives the search giant a mobile device hardware business to go along with its successful Android operating system for smartphones and tablets.

Regulators in other major regional markets, including the U.S., had already okayed the merger. In exchange for approving the deal on Friday, the Chinese Commerce Ministry’s Anti-Monopoly Bureau extracted a pledge from Google that it would keep Android free and available without discrimination to all device makers for at least five years, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Last January, Motorola divided its mobile device business and its telecommunications equipment business into two independent public companies. Google announced its intent to acquire the former company, now known as Motorola Mobility, on Aug. 15, 2011 in order to “supercharge” its Android mobile operating system and build up its patent portfolio.

Google CEO Larry Page said at the time that the search giant intended “run Motorola as a separate business” and that Google remained committed to keeping Android open and available to all device makers. Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile at Google, said “the top five Android licensees” had been consulted ahead of the acquisition and “they all showed very enthusiastic support for the deal.”

Earlier this month, it was reported that Google plans to give multiple mobile device makers early access to its next version of Android in an attempt to create a more robust ecosystem to take on Apple and also to reassure partners that its Motorola Mobility acquisition won’t squeeze them out.

It has also been reported that Google wants to sell co-branded “Nexus” phones running Android Jellybean, the next version of the mobile operating system. It’s unclear whether this rumored phone or phones, which Google would reportedly sell through its own online store, would be built by Motorola Mobility or another Android partner.

The Google-Motorola Mobility merger could close in just a couple of days and layoffs at Motorola Mobility might be in the offing soon after, according to TechCrunch.

Motorola Mobility on Friday filed an 8-K form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission informing the SEC of the Chinese regulators’ decision to clear the deal and the two companies’ intent to finalize the transaction within two business days.

After that, Google will conduct a “listening tour” of Motorola Mobility operations, TechCrunch reported, citing an unnamed source. Google management will be “seeing what everyone does, then making decisions,” the source was quoted as saying. The tech site also claimed to have heard that “there will be layoffs coming imminently.”

For more from Damon, follow him on Twitter @dpoeter.

For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.

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21 May 12 Microsoft Wins Patent Suit Against Motorola Android Handsets

Technology giant Microsoft claimed victory this weekend as the International Trade Commission (ITC) issued its final determination in Microsoft’s Android infringement case against Motorola, ruling Motorola violated a Microsoft patent related to ActiveSync, a mobile data synchronization technology and protocol developed by Microsoft, originally released in 1996. The technology is licensed to a number of mobile device companies, including Apple for iOS.

The ruling affects eight individual Motrola Mobility handsets which run Google’s Android operating system, including the popular Droid 2 and Droid X smartphones, as well as the Backflip, Charm, Clip, Devour, i1 and Cliq XT. “Microsoft started its ITC investigation asserting 9 patents against Motorola Mobility,” Motorola spokeswoman  Jennifer Erickso said in an emailed statement. “Although we are disappointed by the Commission’s ruling that certain Motorola Mobility products violated one patent, we look forward to reading the full opinion to understand its reasoning.”

A Bloomberg article reported that Motorola Mobility could appeal the ruling or cut a licensing deal with Microsoft in order to avoid altering the software on its phones. The company is currently being acquired by Google for $12.5 billion, a move that would give Google a hardware arm, as well as inheriting a broad array of wireless technology patents that could provide useful cover against its rivals’ legal assault on Android. “These cases usually end up with the parties settling,” Charlie Wolf, an analyst with Needham Co in New York, told the news service. “I would expect Motorola to get together with Microsoft to resolve this.”

According to the ITC filing, the Commission instituted the investigation on November 5,2010, based on a complaint filed by Microsoft titled In the Matter of Certain Mobile Devices, Associated Software and Components Thereof, 337-744. The final ruling was delivered to President Obama as well as the U.S. Trade Representative, where Obama has the decision to either support or override the decision, based on public policy grounds.

“Microsoft sued Motorola in the ITC only after Motorola chose to refuse Microsoft’s efforts to renew a patent license for well over a year. We’re pleased the full Commission agreed that Motorola has infringed Microsoft’s intellectual property, and we hope that now Motorola will be willing to join the vast majority of Android device makers selling phones in the US by taking a license to our patents,” David Howard, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for Microsoft, said in an emailed statement.

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20 May 12 Open Android the price for China’s Motorola bid approval

Google has secured Chinese approval to complete its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, the search giant has confirmed, though it was reportedly forced to commit to Android openness to sway the decision. Chinese regulators had stood as the final hurdle for Google to complete, with the two companies being given the green-light by both US and European authorities back in February. According to unconfirmed reports, however, China’s price for giving the deal its blessing was a renewed commitment by Google to ensure Android remained freely available for at least five years.

That agreement was described as a “main condition” in order to secure approval, a source not authorized to publicly discuss the deal told Reuters. Android has been adopted by many Chinese OEMs, used in everything from phones to tablets to set-top boxes and more, though often in ways that do not validate the devices for Google’s official suite of apps and official branding.

For its part, though not commenting on any allegiance to openness, Google appears to be treating the deal – and its approach to Android – as business as usual. “Our stance since we agreed to acquire Motorola has not changed,” spokesperson Niki Fenwic said in a statement, ”and we look forward to closing the deal.”

Google’s announcement last year that it intended to buy Motorola Mobility in a deal worth $12.5bn prompted no shortage of surprise in the Android ecosystem. Until now, Google – and the Open Handset Alliance, officially the ruling body guiding Android development, of which Google is the most significant member – has generally taken a back seat from too much involvement in the device market itself, content only to give manufacturers a gentle shove with its Nexus range of “pure Android” phones.

With Motorola brought in-house, however, suspicions were raised that Google might take a more aggressive approach and follow in Apple’s footsteps, marginalizing other Android OEMs such as HTC and Samsung in the process. Google execs promised that would not happen, with talk of a “firewall” between the two companies, but have met with no small amount of skepticism in response.

The Chinese drive for openness would seemingly mean that Android will remain available for all who want it, at least for the next half-decade, though without full details of the deal it’s impossible to know under what conditions that will be the case. The acquisition is expected to close early next week, according to a Motorola spokesperson.

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19 May 12 Android in enterprises ‘severely limited’ by weak management support from Google

Computerworld -

Adoption of Android tablets and smartphones in large businesses has been “severely limited” because of the complexities of managing the wide variety of Android-based devices and versions of the operating system, research firm Gartner said in an evaluation of 20 mobile device management (MDM) software vendors released Friday.

In a survey conducted in April, Gartner found that 58% of enterprises have made or plan to make Apple’s iOS their primary mobile platform in the next year. In comparison, 20% of enterprises will standardize on RIM’s BlackBerry platform and 9% will choose Google’s Android.

Google offers “weaker management support” for Android than Apple does for iOS or Research In Motion does for BlackBerry, Gartner added in its new 34-page study.

The broad-ranging study said the explosion in consumer smartphones and tablets used in workplaces is making MDM the “fastest-growing enterprise mobile software ever in terms of number of suppliers, revenue growth and interest from Gartner clients.”

MDM license revenues were about $200 million in 2010 and $350 million in 2011, and are expected to reach $500 million in 2012, Gartner said. Research firm IDC recently pegged 2010 MDM revenues at a higher level, $300 million, and it expects the market will reach $1.2 billion in 2015.

A big part of the reason why it’s difficult to manage Android systems, Gartner said, is that Google hasn’t opened many application programming interfaces (API) to the dozens of MDM vendors, which means they can’t connect their management tools to Android. In Android 4.0, Google only provided 16 APIs, compared to more than 500 APIs for the latest version of BlackBerry.

Some MDM vendors have built their own APIs for Android devices, but that process “is time-consuming and expensive to do for each device and version of Android,” Gartner said. “This [problem] has severely limited Android adoption in the enterprise, and even today, very few enterprises provide [Android] support.”

Google didn’t respond to a request for comment about Gartner’s report. However, Android vendors such as Motorola Mobility — which Google is acquiring — have defended the security and management features in Android for enterprise use. Those capabilities are mainly available through software from 3LM, a software vendor that Motorola acquired in 2011.

In January, Christy Wyatt, general manager of Motorola Mobility’s enterprise business unit, said: “We have to get Android as a whole at a stable and secure place, and once Android is behind the firewall [with 3LM], that helps. There’s a lot of mythology around Android and whether it’s secure or not.”

Other Android device makers, such as HTC and Sony, have struck agreements to license 3LM software, she said at the time.

Gartner’s report noted that Google hasn’t disclosed what it plans to do with 3LM as part of Motorola, adding that enterprises Gartner works with are hoping Google will use 3LM as part of an enterprise version of Android for device makers.

Earlier in May, 3LM announced Version 3.0 of its Mobile Device and Application Management platform for handling smartphones and tablets that run Android 4.0, as well as managing iPhones and iPads. Other new features include an easier interface for IT managers and tools to prevent users from copying data from corporate systems to noncorporate systems.

Gartner didn’t rank 3LM in its latest review of 20 MDM vendors because it doesn’t consider 3LM a true MDM vendor. Gartner analyst Phillip Redman, one of three authors of the report, said in an email interview that 3LM builds APIs and doesn’t provide actual MDM capabilities, and he added that those APIs serve as a “layer between MDM and a mobile device.”

Claims that Android is broadly secure are “not true,” Redman added. “All Android is not created equally.” He didn’t elaborate.

Enterprise use of BlackBerry smartphones, which have been widely regarded as secure and manageable through RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server, is on the decline. In April, RIM released an MDM platform called Mobile Fusion that provides management for iOS and Android as well as BlackBerry. Gartner didn’t evaluate Mobile Fusion for its report because it’s too new. But the research firm did say that the software “could be a force if [RIM] decides to invest more in this area.”

Of the 20 MDM vendors that Gartner studied, it ranked these five as leaders: MobileIron, AirWatch, Fiberlink, Zenprise and Good Technologies. SAP and Symantec were listed as “challengers,” while BoxTone and IBM were described as “visionaries.”

Gartner described the other 11 MDM vendors it studied as “niche players.” They are McAfee, Sophos, Soti, Trend Micro, Tangoe, OpenPeak, Silverback MDM, Amtel, Landesk, Smith Micro Software and MyMobile Security.

In all, there are probably more than 100 vendors globally that offer some form of MDM capability, Gartner said. To qualify for the group of 20, the MDM vendors had to have a well-rounded set of mobile management tools. For security management, each of the 20 had to have IT tools that were capable of the following: enforcing passwords; wiping data off of a device; remotely locking a device; creating an audit trail for logging in of a device and verifying a device’s configuration from a central console; and detecting jailbreaks and rooting. They also had to support at least three mobile operating systems. Other required security components included support for antivirus software, encryption, firewalls and mobile VPNs.

Other requirements included tools to block use of flash cards or other external storage media, and tools to audit changes made on the hardware. For software, the 20 MDM vendors had to support the ability to push or pull apps on a device and to verify the origin of mobile apps. The software also had to support app updates, patches and an enterprise and third-party app store.

All 20 MDM vendors in the Gartner group had to have MDM-specific revenue of at least $1.5 million. The average price for MDM software is about $60 per user per year, Gartner said, and that price should drop to $40 per user per year by 2015 as more cloud-based MDM systems emerge.

covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at Twitter @matthamblen, or subscribe to Hamblen RSSMatt’s RSS feed. His email address is

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19 May 12 Microsoft wins Motorola Android US import ban

Microsoft has won an ITC ruling that will force Motorola to either modify the software on its Android phones, or face imports of handsets into the US being blocked. The victory, which saw Microsoft argue that Motorola had failed to properly license an ActiveSync related patent in its handsets, could still be struck down by President Obama within his review period, but if not will come into force in sixty days. Microsoft is hoping to pressure Motorola into joining the group of Android licensees which pay them patent royalties for devices based on Google’s open-source platform.

“Microsoft sued Motorola in the ITC only after Motorola chose to refuse Microsoft’s efforts to renew a patent license for well over a year” Microsoft deputy general counsel David Howard said in a statement about the ruling. ”We’re pleased the full Commission agreed that Motorola has infringed Microsoft’s intellectual property, and we hope that now Motorola will be willing to join the vast majority of Android device makers selling phones in the US by taking a license to our patents.”

Whether that will actually take place will depend on Motorola’s interpretation of the final ruling, something the company says that it hasn’t had time yet to delve into. Its options are to remove or rework the implementation which the courts say infringe Microsoft’s patent, or to stump up the cash.

“Microsoft started its ITC investigation asserting 9 patents against Motorola Mobility. Although we are disappointed by the Commission’s ruling that certain Motorola Mobility products violated one patent, we look forward to reading the full opinion to understand its reasoning” Motorola said in a statement. “Motorola Mobility will not experience any impact in the near term, as the Commission’s ruling is subject to a $0.33/per unit bond during the 60 day Presidential review period. We will explore all options including appeal.”

The ITC’s ruling [pdf link] does not specify the exact handsets at risk, but previous confirmed models included the Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq XT, Devour, Backflip and Charm. However, it’s possible that other, more recent devices from Motorola’s stable could also be at risk.

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