Samsung wants to make smartphones SAFE for IT departments. On Monday, the company announced that it was introducing Samsung Approved For Enterprise, or SAFE, phones in the U.S.
The company said that SAFE-branded smartphones are "secure and manageable," and that they would meet the needs of IT departments that allow employees to bring their own device to work. The first SAFE-branded smartphone is the Android-based Galaxy S III, which will be available through AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless this week and US Cellular next month.
The Galaxy S III features a suite of capabilities designed to support AES-256 bit encryption, Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, and major virtual private network (VPNs) and Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions.
To create SAFE, Samsung said it asked solutions providers, including Afaria, MobileIron and AirWatch, to use its software development kit to integrate their solutions into the technology. The company then undertook testing and other quality assurance to verify support for MDM and VPN solutions.
Samsung said that, in addition to regular enterprises, SAFE devices are designed for use in regulated industries, such as healthcare, financial services or government.
The company is also pointing to SAFE as a step in the direction of defragmenting the Android platform, to the extent that IT professionals can now expect "a consistent level of IT compliance."
Features in the Galaxy S III include the ability to securely share PowerPoint presentations and PDFs with others who have the same phone, and S Beam One Touch Sharing, which uses near-field communication and Wi-Fi Direct to exchange contacts, meeting information, or documents by tapping compatible phones together. The company noted that S Beam is controllable via MDM.
Accompanying the SAFE launch, Samsung also announced it was offering a trade-up program called SAFE2SWITCH, which provides what the company described as "very competitive trade-in values in real-time" for existing smartphones or other Net-connected devices.
Since two of the traditional leaders in enterprise business technology -- Microsoft and Research In Motion -- are having challenges in the smartphones-for-business market, Samsung's SAFE initiative could appeal to IT departments looking for business-appropriate solutions, especially for Android phones.
In the case of the Galaxy S III, the appeal may be working, given reports that, at one of the largest, though unnamed carriers, nearly half the new smartphone's pre-orders are from business customers.
Other carriers have also established IT-ready programs for Android devices, but Samsung said those were only for a single carrier, and that this is the first effort across multiple carriers.
For the first quarter of this year, industry research firm Strategy Analytics named Samsung Telecommunications America as the No. 1 mobile phone provider in the U.S., and No. 1 in the world for smartphones. IDC has named Samsung first in both categories worldwide.