Can a business-focused apps marketplace make a big difference for a
device maker? Samsung is trying to find out with its Samsung Solutions Exchange, a mobile app store that is oriented to businesses.
However, it is not just an aggregation of existing business apps, but the result of Samsung's assessment of needs after discussions with business customers. The device maker also worked with developers to provide apps that build on features found in Samsung devices, such as its S Pen or specific gestural interaction. Devices include tablets, smartphones, and the new Galaxy Gear smartwatch.
In support of this development effort, the technology giant has provided a development kit and more than 1000 APIs. It is working with large companies such as , Salesforce.com, and SAP, as well as smaller firms, such as Citrix, AccuCode, Belkin, clickSoftware, and DecisionPoint. In addition to apps, the Solutions Exchange also offers access to partners for creating customized software using Samsung devices.
Tim Wagner, VP and general manager of Samsung Mobile's business, told news media that, instead of creating a desktop app first and then some version of that for mobile later, Samsung was looking for developers to create the apps with "full functionality on mobile devices," with mobile coming first. He added that Samsung has the ambitious goal of becoming the top mobile device provider to businesses within the next 18 months.
The new Exchange is only the latest effort by the company, now the world's largest smartphone marker, to woo business users. In 2011, for instance, Samsung launched its Samsung for Enterprise (SAFE) effort, which labeled devices as being enterprise-ready by providing them with encryption, virtual private networks, and IT-pleasing remote wipe, among other mobile device management functions. Last year, the company released its Knox security platform, which offers the ability to create secure zones for company apps and data.
"Full Court Press"
Laura DiDio, an analyst with industry research firm Information Technology Intelligence Corp., told NewsFactor that businesses are seeing "Galaxies all over the place," referring to the popular smartphone. Galaxy Note tablets are also gaining a stronghold in enterprises. As one example, American Airlines has provided nearly 17,000 Galaxy Note tablets to its flight attendants for handling real-time flight and customer information, order taking, and seat assignments.
This Solutions Exchange, DiDio said, is part of Samsung's "full court press" on the enterprise market, which is coming just as BlackBerry is at its weakest and that company's business marketshare is opening up. Recently, BlackBerry announced it has signed a letter of intent to be acquired for $4.7 billion.
At the same time that BlackBerry is rapidly fading, Microsoft is attempting to gain a significant foothold in the mobile space with its recent acquisition of Nokia's mobile device business. So, before Microsoft gains much traction with its Windows Phone platform beyond its single-digit market share, it's a good time for Samsung to ramp up its business ecosystem.