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Citrix's XenMobile update has 'no major gaps,' but misses Worx app goal

Citrix has updated its XenMobile management platform with some important features, but hasn't reached its goal of 500 Worx apps.

Citrix updated its XenMobile platform this week with new end-user capabilities, but it falls short of an ambitious goal that was set for Worx apps when the product launched this past spring.

Among the prominent updates for XenMobile version 8.6 include support for Apple iOS 7, Samsung KNOX and Amazon Kindle Fire, a single sign-on system based on a unique user PIN, and a new one-touch feature that allows users to automatically join an online meeting.

This is the first update for the XenMobile platform since June, according to Citrix. It will be available for current customers to download in early November.

Where are the Worx apps?

When XenMobile  launched in May, Citrix wanted it to be as easy as possible for independent software vendors (ISVs) to make their apps wrapped and managed by XenMobile as Worx apps.

There were 80 Worx apps at the time of launch and Amit Pandey, Citrix's general manager for mobility, said there were "going to be 500 ISVs on this by the end of the year."  

An update this week indicated the company hasn't reached this goal with two months left in the year. There are "more than 120 committed to Worx," a Citrix spokeswoman said, without providing additional information.

Developers can make their apps Worx-enabled by adding one line of code to their programs. From there, the apps are made available in public app stores and XenMobile provides an IT-managed and branded interface for those apps.

Despite not being close to the 500 anticipated Worx apps, Chris Hazelton, a mobile analyst and research director for mobile and wireless at 451 Research, said the current population is still impressive.

"[500 ISVs] was an aggressive goal," Hazelton said. "Even still, 120 is one of the largest ecosystems within the enterprise…I think they are still doing very well. They are in the early days of XenMobile and 120 is a pretty attractive number."

The overall quantity of apps isn't as important as the quality of what's available, said Benjamin Robbins, principal at Palador, Inc., an enterprise mobility consulting firm in Seattle.

"It's less about the number and what is in that 120," Robbins said. "How many apps are there in your app store, 800-or-900,000? There are only about 40 I care about. So are they the right 120? It depends on if they hit that target you are looking for."

XenMobile came in part as a result of Citrix's late-2012 acquisition of mobile device management vendor Zenprise and Hazelton said the results so far have paid dividends for Citrix.

The new single-sign on system eliminates the need for complicated passwords that Hazelton said can often be cumbersome when attempting to type into a mobile device.

"For a lot of mobile users who join conference calls, reducing the number of steps can be very helpful," he said.

Hazelton added that he doesn't see "any major gaps within the offering" when it comes to the update for XenMobile.

"They're targeting the remote office as well as the branch office," he said. "It allows you to deploy the necessary management tools very quickly."

Citrix said XenMobile is licensed on per-user and per-device options for an annual or perpetual term, starting at $50 per year per device or $65 per year per user.

There is no cost associated with the upgrade for existing XenMobile customers.

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