Android for Work gains mobile-carrier support

Blackphone maker Silent Circle has also jumped on board

Forty companies now support Android for Work.

Forty companies now support Android for Work.

The enterprise-oriented version of Google's mobile OS, Android for Work, has gained support from a roster of business partners that includes the top four U.S. mobile carriers.

Forty companies now support the BYOD-friendly software ecosystem, including device manufacturers, application makers and management providers, and for the first time, mobile carriers including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Rogers, Bell Canada, Telus Mobility and KT.

"The addition of carriers is a huge deal," said Dan Olds, principal analyst with Gabriel Consulting Group. "This makes Android for Work truly international -- they have enough carriers signed up that virtually any business, regardless of the carrier they choose, will have it available to them."

That, in turn, gives Google "a pretty big leg up" over Apple, Olds added.

"There isn't any comparable suite of features, suites and characteristics for iOS, at least not backed by Apple," he said.

In many ways, that contrast hearkens back to the old desktop wars between Macs and PCs, he added.

"Microsoft made it easy for enterprises to deploy thousands of desktops, but Apple didn't pay much attention to that," he said.

Also on Thursday Google showcased Android for Work devices built for regulated industries like government and healthcare, both of which have strict security and compliance requirements. Blackphone maker Silent Circle, for instance, has built enhanced privacy and security features on top of the Android platform, according to a Google blog post.

Android for Work features default encryption, SELinux security enforcement and a dedicated store for business apps.

More than 10,000 businesses, including the World Bank, the U.S. Army and Guardian Life Insurance Company, are currently testing, deploying or using Android for Work, Google said.

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Katherine Noyes

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