At Redbend, we have had many opportunities to discuss enterprise mobility, and dual personas with customers, partners and analysts. The approach we recommend for enterprise mobility, and especially for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), is based on a single smartphone device with dual OS’s running on it. With this approach, the two Android OS’s are running side by side, using virtualization, each completely isolated from the other all the way down to the hardware. The idea is that one side of the phone is a business side, which is completely protected and controlled by the IT department at work, while the other side is a private side, completely open and offering maximum privacy to the user…at least privacy from its employer.
This is the standard pitch. However, the more we meet with different people around the world the more we learn, and sometimes even we are surprised by the variety of use cases outside the standard business versus private use case. What is common to all these use cases is the existence of sensitive information of some sort on the device, which could be business information or completely private, and the need to protect it from the rest of the world.
One interesting use case we’ve come across is related to the rise of mobile money. Today, the world is witnessing a growing number of mobile payment, mobile shopping and mobile wallet applications, all of which require people to keep their credit card information somewhere on the phone. Now, as encrypted and protected as these apps can be, there is nothing more secure than two separate phones, each serving a different purpose. After all, once a malicious app has wormed its way onto my phone, the way from there to attacking and breaking even the most secure apps sitting on that phone is an easy one, and it is just a matter of time before this happens. So using advanced virtualization technology should be considered as a way to isolate my mobile money information, with it sitting on one side of the phone, and all other applications sitting on the other.
Another use case we are hearing about quite often is separating my “serious” life, i.e. email, contacts, new apps, banking apps, etc. from my “play life,” with the idea of potentially allowing my kids access only to the “play life” side of my phone. Surprisingly (enough, or maybe not surprisingly at all, almost every person we talk to about a dual android phone brings up the “mistress” use case. Of course, it’s always asked about as a joke, and it’s never for that person we are talking with…it’s always a friend or a story…but it’s always mentioned.
In some countries around the world the capability of dual OS’s together with other features such as a dual phone number and even dual SIM creates yet another level of excitement for mobile users.
In the last discussion around this topic that I was part of the person I was talking with, who ironically sounded a bit uninterested in this technology at first, asked the question, “Can you only do two Androids?” The technical answer is obviously, “No, it’s not limited to two.” But still, I paused a bit before answering him…thinking to myself…how many personas does one person need???