Google Nexus phones have always been thought of as specialty items—they’re mostly for developers or at least in-the-know technical folks. However, this week Tangoe, the managed mobility service provider, announced an agreement with Google to distribute Nexus phones (the 5X and 6P) directly to enterprise customers.
The announcement came towards the bottom of a broader press release detailing a new offering Tangoe is calling “Mobility as a Service” (because it includes devices, carrier plans, logistics, expense management, support, and all that stuff) but I think they buried the lede. Distributing Google Nexus phones to the enterprise is brilliant, and I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve heard of it.
Why is it brilliant? When you think about it, Nexus phones are actually perfect for the enterprise:
- They support all the Android for Work features, which means they have powerful EMM capabilities.
- They actually get new versions of Android as they come out.
- They get monthly security updates.
- They run pure Android without carrier or OEM bloatware.
- They’re very nice, well-respected devices.
There are a few limitations. Google apparently hasn’t pursued as many government certifications for Nexus phones as Samsung has for Knox devices or Apple has for iOS. On the Android for Work website, Google recommends Samsung Knox, BlackBerry Priv, or Silent Circle Blackphone devices for highly regulated environments. (In fact, I wasn’t able to find any information on what certifications Nexus phones do have, but I asked Tangoe about it and I’ll update this article when I hear back. Update: I've confirmed that at this time, the Nexus devices don't have any government certifications.) This may preclude some industries from using Nexus phones, but overall I still think it’s a great strategy for enterprise-issued Android phones.
Nexus phones also have some quirks with some carriers (like Verizon), but if you’re going the managed services route, that’s a known factor that you can plan for.
I spoke to Paul Ybarra, SVP of Solutions Group Sales at Tangoe, and he mantioned that another one of the benefits of the program is that they can facilitate conversations between customers and the Android for Work group at Google.
The whole EMM industry has been excited about Android for Work ever since it came out. Getting Nexus phones directly to the enterprise is an example of the opportunities that have come from it. Stay tuned—there will be plenty more.