Samsung Takes on BlackBerry’s Enterprise Dominance with Knox for Android

Samsung is looking to take BlackBerry head-on in an arena where the Canadian company has dominated from the beginning: the enterprise.

Already the world’s top smartphone manufacturer, Samsung hopes to add to the success of its Android-powered smartphones with Knox, a new enterprise initiative aimed at the BYOD trend. Knox functions similar to a new BlackBerry 10 feature, Balance, which allows smartphone owners to maintain one professional and one personal account separately on their device.

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Samsung unveiled Knox this week at the Mobile World Congress, which is taking place in Barcelona, Spain. The Korean company worked with the National Security Agency in the United States to bolster the security of Google’s Android platform, which historically has been among the least secure of all mobile operating systems.

But despite Samsung’s consumer clout, enterprise penetration will be an uphill battle. BlackBerry remains by far the most secure mobile platform. Android ranks last in security after both Apple’s iOS and Windows. Android’s top apps are hacked regularly. And the company behind Android, Google, frequently draws heat over security and related policies.

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Further, even if Knox can solve security issues, Android also suffers from severe fragmentation. IT departments will struggle to adopt a platform where users are running non-upgradeable smartphones that each use different versions of Android, as that would make enterprise-issued updates unwieldy. (59% of Android users are still using Gingerbread or older—Google released that iteration more than two years ago in December 2010.)

These are two significant challenges that Samsung must overcome. But if it can, BlackBerry could face its first real threat since pioneering the smartphone more than a decade ago.