Google's Android to challenge RIM

Google plans to add enterprise-focused features to its Android platform as soon as this year, according to Andy Rubin, Google's director of mobile platforms. The move will position Android as a competitor to Research In Motion's BlackBerry platform in the enterprise segment and is another measure of Google's lofty hopes for the the growth of the operating system.

"Today we don't support many enterprise applications, but in the future I think enterprise will be a good focus for us," Rubin said in an interview with Reuters. Rubin said that the added functionality for business users could come as soon as this year, but that the speed with which such phones hit the market will depend upon handset makers.

Google's push into the enterprise space is a further indication of the company's high hopes for the platform, which has so far mainly targeted consumers. While some Android phones, such as the forthcoming myTouch 3G from T-Mobile USA, have support for Microsoft Exchange email, the focus of Google's marketing and software efforts so far have not been explicitly targeted toward enterprise users.

Interestingly, Rubin's comments coincide with a push by Google to promote its online software products. The company's "Going Google" ad campaign is an overt attempt to cut into Microsoft's Office dominance.

As for Android, Google has said that by the end of 2009 there will be at least 18 phones on the market running the operating system. Meanwhile, research firm Strategy Analytics has predicted 900 percent growth in Android handset shipments in 2009.

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This article originally appeared in Fierce Wireless