Does mobile need an enterprise app store? © 2009 Tina Whitfield

Are marketers including enterprise mobile applications in their media planning?  Are deals to be done with big companies that have big B2B brands and their own micro -ecosystem?  If you haven’t thought enterprise yet, it’s time to do so!

Look down from 40,000 feet and you will see two vertical channels for selling mobile phones: enterprise consumers and everyone else.  The enterprise consumer acquires the mobile phone by purchasing the device from the market or receiving it from the I.T. department.

If received from I.T., rest assured the mobile phone is locked down and loaded.  The opportunity to add third party applications is next to 0.09%

If the mobile phone is purchased from a wireless carrier storefront, independent dealer, or manufacturer website, the worker bee now treads in a grey cloud of corporate ethics, guidelines, and requirements.  The I.T. department issues edicts that deplore installing applications that could compromise the security of data stored on the phone and propagate hacker hooks into the corporate main frame.

Back in the day, I remember carrying around two phones: work and play.  If a company picks up the tab on a phone, then all usage must be turned-over to an employer upon request.  Just a few years ago, I was rotating through four phones at any time to test out various applications, operating systems, and handset features and functionality.  Now, remembering which phone was for personal calls usually was forgotten in my sleepy rush to work downing a Starbucks and continued long into the rest of my day.

Today’s employees want to carry only one mobile device. They want it to be personal. It must entertain, inform, and enable communication while protecting the personal and professional life of the user.

So what can corporate security do to protect the company while staving off a mutinous tribe of tired, underpaid, over-caffeinated, zealous zombies locked in cube farms and thermostat challenged offices? What about the road warriors who are camped at airports for 18 hours trying to get the next flight out and are tired of playing Bricklayer on Blackberry? How come their kids get Guitar Hero or something like that for mobile and they’re now bored Twitterless.

The solution is simple; an enterprise application store either through the Company – similar to a corporate swag store – where applications contain WAP ads promoting company products and initiatives or… through a wireless carrier or mobile operator portal in partnership with the Company.  Either channel provides the I.T. department control over the quality and safety of applications available for purchase by the user via the user’s personal banking account using PayPal Mobile or Firethorn.

Now who pays for all this enterprise assurance? The application developer does. And, the user because they will pay a premium for ‘approved’ applications to personalize their phone.  Because the cost is a bit more all the way around, it can be expected – and it should be – that the applications will be better in quality and the developers more successful in building a robust business with several product lines and a variety of apps in development.

The enterprise market is poised to deliver the monetization everyone wants except, perhaps, branded advertising. It is up to each enterprise to make that call.

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