As fun as it is to try and place cool, sexy mobile phones like the iPhone and new Android phones in the enterprise, the brick wall (known as reality) that we keep hitting is that these devices really aren't designed for enterprise use and, right now, you're probably better off with a two-year-old Palm. Granted, the iPhone has made a lot improvements since it was first released (Exchange support and soon copy+paste functionality), but there are still a handful of reasons why the iPhone isn't ready for the enterprise.
Meanwhile, Google's open-source darling Android has even more enterprise problems. Rather than lacking just a few key functionalities, the Linux-based browser is missing a host of familiar programs and compatibilities that enterprise employees (and their employers) come to expect. Most notably, Android is Linux-based, and but for a handful of netbooks, Linux is all but nonexistent in enterprises.
Well, DataViz is releasing two products that might push Android just a little closer to this pipe dream. The first is Documents To Go, which lets you view, edit, and send Word and Excel documents between your Windows PC and your Android phone. Documents To Go is available for an introductory price of $19.99.
The other app, RoadSync, uses ActiveSync to push wireless synchronization with Exchange Server 2003 and 2007. RoadSync is currently available in beta for free through May 31. Note also that Microsoft has announced it will release ActiveSync support to Android, so at some point in the future Exchange support should come standard.
"I do believe that being able to accomplish these tasks on an Android smartphone will help to attract users who are familiar with using Microsoft products on their computer and/or current mobile devices," said Shari Hoffman with DataViz. "In addition, due to the fact that DataViz has been providing these products on other platforms for years, users who have used our software previously may be more apt to choose an Android smartphone because they know that they will be able to use the same products they have been using."
So, will these two new apps will have people rushing to use Android in the enterprise? No, but it is an interesting case study. While Android has been shunned as not even worth consideration in the enterprise, I'm seeing more and more enterprise-style apps being built for the Android market. So, obviously someone thinks there's some potential there.