This content is part of the Essential Guide: MWC 2014 news and conference coverage
News Stay informed about the latest enterprise technology news and product updates.

Upcoming Samsung Knox MAM updates to challenge BlackBerry

Samsung is expected to update its Knox MAM software next week, but will the changes be enough to elbow BlackBerry out of the enterprise?

Samsung is expected to update its mobile application management software and hardware next week in an effort to provide a secure enterprise mobility alternative to BlackBerry and other devices.

A source close to the company said updated security features and new devices are expected at Mobile World Congress (MWC).

[Samsung Knox gets] low marks for deployment and simplicity.

Jack Gold, mobile analyst, J. Gold Associates.

Samsung has teased an "unpacked" device event at MWC, a logical place for the updates after it thrust into enterprise mobility software there last year by bulking up Samsung Approved for Enterprise (SAFE), its own foray into mobile device management (MDM). That included Knox, the container feature that separates business and personal applications and protects corporate data on select Samsung devices.

While Samsung declined to comment on its plans, mobile experts say the time is right for updates to Knox as Samsung attempts to wrestle enterprise market share away from competitors -- particularly, BlackBerry.

Samsung must first prove Knox is a worthwhile investment for enterprises that worry about security on Google Inc.'s Android-based devices, according to Jack Gold, principal and founder of J. Gold Associates in Northborough, Mass.

The cost for Knox ($3.60 per month per device) and the need to connect it to an existing MDM provider are among the problems Gold sees. That's contrasted against BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES), which is much simpler to implement, he said.

"You buy BES, you set it up, you have your black box and you're done," Gold said. "I give [Samsung] high marks for what they want to do, but low marks for deployment and simplicity."

Another issue is that Knox is only supported on a limited number of devices, Gold said. Support for more devices, beyond just Samsung, could be one avenue for the company, like BlackBerry does with BES.

Samsung Knox could boost enterprise use

Samsung doesn't have the same MDM cache as other companies because of its years as a hardware provider and not as a software provider, according to Craig Mathias, principal at IT consultancy Farpoint Group in Ashland, Mass.

"It's a very competitive space and we've seen acquisitions in the industry," Mathias said. "Samsung has the opportunity to be a long-term supplier here and their challenge is to develop an ecosystem of their own."

There's a chance Samsung could join the likes of Google, Amazon, Apple Inc. and Microsoft as companies who offer complete environments if they can get software right, but the jury remains out on Knox, Mathias said.

A recent agreement with Bethesda, Md.-based Digital Management Inc. (DMI) for managed mobility services for SAFE in the U.S. was seen as a boost for Knox if Samsung plans to make a play for the regulated markets long dominated by BlackBerry. DMI won a $16 million MDM contract for the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency in 2013. 

Security issues with Knox aren’t as deep as those with Android, with one analyst saying Google has to come up with a security fix that is integrated down into the kernel.

Samsung is in development with Linux-based mobile OS Tizen but hasn't introduced any U.S. devices or carriers for it, making its potential enterprise impact unclear. It's possible Google's deal to sell Motorola Mobility to Lenovo could lead to more cooperation between Google and Samsung, as well.

"With the divesture of Motorola, a lot of the pressure is really off [the Google-Samsung relationship]," Mathias said.

Dig Deeper on Enterprise mobile security

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

What does Samsung need to add for Knox to be enterprise-worthy?
Integration with Google Apps and that Knox be compatible with a wider range of Android devices.
Thanks for your thoughts, malonso. People I talk to definitely think Knox is a good starting point but they want to see it available on more devices, which is something BlackBerry already does with BES.
It is much more than just a container, this new addition brings in a type 1 hypervisor. Real separation of secure and insecure domains with a hardware root of trust. So this cant be a standard container (available on a play store) that is basically insecure, it goes much deeper than that!