Smartphone wars: What’s the best mobile OS for your business?

Which consumer mobile platform is the most business ready? It’s a question many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) will be asking themselves these days, with the increasing popularity of the bring your own device (BYOD) trend and employees using their personal consumer devices for business tasks.

It’s also the question that security vendor Trend Micro set out to answer with a new report, Enterprise Readiness of Consumer Mobile Platforms. The research, which, it should be noted, is sponsored by BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, looked at four leading mobile operating systems – Blackberry OS, Apple iOS, Windows Phone and Android — and evaluated their suitability for the business environment using 60 security and management criteria organized into 12 categories relevant to the IT managers that may need to support the devices in a business context.

Among the categories evaluated were built-in security, authentication, application security, device wipe, corporate managed e-mail, support for ActiveSync, mobile device management and virtualization. Here are their findings, in order of ranking:

1. BlackBerry OS: Noting that it’s the most mature of the platforms, Trend Micro researchers said BlackBerry scored well across the board, with corporate-grade security and manageability, making it the “platform the option of choice for the most stringent mobile roles.”

2. Apple iOS: The report ranks the 5th generation of Apple’s iOS as the leading challenger to BlackBerry OS for business friendliness. Apple’s strict control over the hardware and application ecosystem is a security plus, but the report points to Apple’s mobile device management as a weakness.

3. Android: Security and manageability are tapped by the report as Android’s biggest weaknesses. While the recent addition of device encryption support is a positive, reliable control of OS versioning and the app store are weaknesses that led the report to recommend Android only for the “least sensitive” mobile roles.

4. Windows Phone: While Windows Phone 8 recently hit the market, Windows Phone 7.5 was evaluated by the researchers, who noted the platform is still too new to have a reliable gauge of its performance in an enterprise context, which led them to recommend caution at this stage. Still, on the report’s criteria it performed well, scoring just behind Apple iOS and ahead of Android.

Mobile OS rankings by category. (Source: Trend Micro)

Click the link below to read the full report.

Source | Enterprise Readiness of Consumer Mobile Platforms

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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