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VMware needs its latest email acquisition to go better than the last one

In case you missed it last week, in the aftermath of some bigger acquisition news, VMware bought Boxer, a secure email app vendor.

Boxer is not VMware’s first foray into the email market. In 2010, the company acquired Zimbra, an email and collaboration vendor, from Yahoo. The deal came before VMware got really serious about end-user computing (which wasn’t even a prevalent term at the time), and email didn’t seem like a natural extension of the company’s core server virtualization business.

As most observers predicted, it turned out that email wasn’t a good fit, and three years later, VMware unceremoniously sold off Zimbra.

Now VMware is back in the game with Boxer, whose Android and iOS apps provide access to a wide variety of email accounts, from Microsoft Exchange and Office 365 to Gmail and Yahoo. They also integrate with enterprise software such as Box and Salesforce. VMware will use Boxer to provide secure email access through its AirWatch enterprise mobility management platform — an area where VMware could use some help.

Its current offering, AirWatch Inbox, has an average Apple App Store user rating of 2.5 stars out of five. Boxer’s iOS app has a 3.5 rating. If users don’t like their company’s recommended email app, they’ll find another way to access email on the go, without any oversight — which totally defeats the purpose of deploying secure mobile email in the first place.

VMware tried once with email and failed, but that was at a time when it could afford to do so. Last year, VMware made a $1.54 billion bet on enterprise mobility by acquiring AirWatch, and email is far and away the most prevalent mobile app in the enterprise. VMware has to get it right this time.

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