Monday’s announcement that Microsoft and Good Technologies have entered into a partnership to bring the Good for Enterprise solution to Windows Phone seems like it helps Microsoft to build a better story around the deployment of Windows Phone devices in large corporations. In fact, the use of Good’s 192 bit AES encryption technology to secure sensitive data on phones could be construed as a direct threat to RIM because it provides Microsoft with a claim that Windows Phone can be as secure as BlackBerry devices. Of course, a lot depends on the implementation that we haven’t yet seen. On the one hand, it might be as smooth and as integrated as you’d like and cloak all secure data in email, attachments, and other files from the prying eyes of those who might steal the device. On the other, the implementation might be beloved by technologists and hated by the real human beings who have to use it, in which case 192 bit AES encryption will be so much hot air.
The important point in all of this is a growing move by Microsoft to take back control of what should be a very natural user community for its mobile devices. After all, if you already control the world’s most popular email server and have rolled out a solid cloud email service that exploits a protocol (ActiveSync) that is licensed by all of the world’s major mobile device vendors, wouldn’t you expect to be able to translate a high percentage of the hundreds of millions of connected mailboxes into users of your mobile devices?
Alas, the combination of inept early versions of Windows Mobile, horrible radio stacks, and the successes first of RIM’s BlackBerry solution followed then by the Apple iPhone and iPad have collectively created an unhappy corporate hunting ground for Microsoft. Things are changing. Windows Phone 7.5 is really quite good and I have very much enjoyed using it since I picked up a Nokia Lumia 800 and moved over from iPhone. There have been some gotchas and snafus along the way, but overall I am really very positive about Windows Phone and look forward to seeing what Microsoft does with the upcoming Tango release.
Good Technology has had a chequered history since it was founded in 1996. It was one of the first mobile offerings for Exchange Server and was used by many U.S. companies (including Microsoft) who preferred its GoodLink platform to RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise solution. Its high point was in the period 2001-2003 when it offered its own mobile devices (for example, the G100) and supported other platforms such as the MindSpring Treo 600. I recall being part of a HP team who investigated Good for its potential as a a partner or acquisition target. HP didn’t proceed and Good was eventually acquired by Motorola in 2006 before selling it on in 2009 to Visto, which subsequently adopted the Good name to form the core of today’s company, which now focuses on selling secure software.
No pun intended, it’s good to see the security technology that Good originally made its name with persist and create another opportunity for this much-changed company. No one knows whether more secure data protection will be enough to make companies want to move away from BlackBerry or iPhone, but I shall follow the evolution of this particular story with some interest.
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