I wrote a feature last year about how insurers are managing their consumer-facing applications across the many mobile platforms. This year, though, the mobile focus could shift from the consumer to the enterprise.
While Google's Android is making noise in the consumer arena, the battle for enterprise acceptance is being waged between Research in Motion's BlackBerry (the current runaway leader) and Apple's iOS (which powers the iPhone and iPad). With business use, the No. 1 concern is security, especially in financial services. And, those two major players both made news with their security features this week.
First, in a move that Reuters said was designed to "defend its turf," RIM announced BlackBerry Balance.
From the article:
"…BlackBerry Balance… [will] allow corporate IT departments to retain control over data such as business-related email sent via a BlackBerry Enterprise Server, or BES, while keeping the Web browser and an employee's social networking and photographs separate.
Balance will also be available for RIM's coming tablet computer, the PlayBook.
Not to be outdone, the very next day Apple was in the news, with a Reuters article touting third-party security apps for the iOS.
Good Technologies, MobileIron and NetHawk "are developing programs that can provide the extra assurances required by financial services and healthcare providers, which require airtight communications," Reuters reports.
The article about Apple touches on a point Cimmaron Buser, VP of products and marketing for Apperian — a developer of enterprise mobile applications — mentioned to me when I talked to him last year. He noted that the push for companies to support non-BlackBerry devices comes because of increased consumer adoption of other phones.
"IT in some companies is saying, 'We're going to have to come up with some policies and learn to work with these platforms — we're not going to be able to make people buy certain phones," Buser explained.
Apple and RIM might also see some pressure from Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 platform, I reported last year. That company is looking to break into the mobile market from all angles, and is leveraging its existing user base for things like Microsoft Office to encourage adoption on the enterprise side, Cindy Saccocia, director of U.S. insurance industry solutions for Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, told me.
GEICO is already supporting Windows Phone 7 as a corporate phone, Microsoft reports.
Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio