MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. — Google will soon put the kibosh on its Gmail application for the RIM BlackBerry. But it continues to push Gmail and its Google Apps onto mobile devices that have supplanted the BlackBerry inside so many of the world’s businesses.
On Monday, during a mini-conference at its Mountain View headquarters, Google vice president David Girouard announced that the company has beefed up the web-based tools that let businesses manage mobile devices that use Google Apps, its suite of online office applications. As employees bring their own iPhones and Android handsets to work — doing a bit of an end-run around the IT department — Google seeks to provide companies with a way of managing these devices after the fact.
“With all these diverse devices coming into businesses, the old-fashioned way of managing mobile devices just seems kind of crazy. You’re going to set up servers and somehow register all the devices with the servers and get them back to your users? Forget it. It’s not going to work,” Girouard said.
“You’ve got to be able to enforce policies from the cloud.”
He pointed out that these new tools will manage Windows Mobile devices as well as iPhones, iPads, and Android phones and tablets. But there was no mention of BlackBerry. Just last week, Google said it would discontinue support for its BlackBerry Gmail app, and clearly, Mountain View sees RIM’s device as a has-been. According to research outfit Canalys, BlackBerry’s market share has now dropped below 10 percent in the US.
During a press briefing, Girouard was asked whether Google might be tempted to push Google Apps towards its own operating system platforms, such as Android, at the expense of others, but he said he that Google was committed to supporting a broad array of competing devices.
The company said that with its new management tools, IT managers could get a “holistic view” of mobile devices that are syncing with Google Apps. You can, for instance, track lost devices via Google Maps. “From our dashboard, you can see how your users are going mobile,” Girouard said. From the same tool, you also define your own policies for setting passwords and syncing applications from outside the office.