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Android Gains Steam In Key Verticals

While Apple iOS continues to lead in overall mobile device use among most business users, Android is picking up steam within a number of key verticals. A quarterly report out today by MDM vendor Zenprise showed that Android gained two percentage points on iOS overall, and dominated use within healthcare, communication services and transportation.

Android made up approximately 90%, 95% and 65% of the healthcare, communication services and transportation markets, respectively. Zenprise's report is based on data collected from customers of its Zencloud MDM service. Zenprise declined to state the number of participants.

Globally, Android showed more moderate gains within business environments. The platform directly took two points of share from iOS, shifting up to 37% of the market according to the Zenprise report. In North America, the share was higher, with Android making up 41% of the market, iOS 55% and Windows Mobile 4%.

Android's rise could spell more work for enterprises as other studies and anecdotal evidence from IT practitioners have shown that the open development framework of the platform demands more aggressive security controls to mitigate the risk of data loss and malware infection.

"The ongoing revelations regarding malware-infected Android applications has kept this issue on the top of IT managers' minds," Michael Finneran, an independent consultant and industry analyst, recently wrote in InformationWeek Reports' 2012 State of Mobile Security paper.

Android apps are developing a reputation for possessing security vulnerabilities, in part because Google's application requirements for developers tend to be more forgiving than Apple's. For example, in October, security researchers in Germany analyzed thousands of free Android apps and found that about 8% had potentially vulnerable implementations of SSL/TLS.

Worries over app security may be why, according to the Zenprise study, enterprises are getting more aggressive about managing apps and content on devices running all platforms. The study found that organizations whitelisted 50% more applications and blacklisted 39% more than last quarter. Common blacklisted apps included Angry Birds, YouTube and even the Google Play apps marketplace.

Meanwhile, on the device control front, many organizations are still hesitating to use their mobile device management (MDM) capabilities to enforce policies beyond password use. Zenprise showed that 62% of organizations control passcode use, but much fewer use MDM to enforce other security functions. For example, just 21% enforce VPN use, 29% enforce WiFi security policies and only 13% enforce the use of two-factor authentication. That tracks with research done by InformationWeek Reports; its "2012 State of Mobility" report found that password policy enforcement was the most critical function for respondents using MDM technology.