Amazon’s Kindle line of Android-powered tablets, which sport a modified version of Google’s OS that the online book seller is developing on its own, is looking more and more like a bunch of enterprise Greeks walled up within a great wooden consumer horse. The new Fire HD and HDX tablets ship with “Mojito,” the third iteration of Fire OS, which offers a number of key enterprise-specific features.
These features include support for enterprise email; a built-in native VPN client; wireless printing; a pre-installed productivity suite compatible with Office documents; secure hardware data encryption, better authentication and secure browsing via Silk; and finally, crucial support for existing popular mobile device management services via native APIs.
Kindle’s appeal in enterprise likely began due to cost – the per-unit deployment fees associated with introducing Amazon’s inexpensive tablet across small and large groups of employees far undercuts that of the iPad, for instance. But Amazon has been doing work to help complete the picture, adding services like Whispercast, which essentially offer a free, native MDM solution for organizations that don’t already have their own in place. This Fire OS update (and 3.1, which will introduce a few of the features mentioned above shortly) means it can also easily address those who have already built an enterprise mobile device provisioning network with providers like Good, without requiring them to do any significant IT infrastructure spending.
Also new with these tablets is the Mayday Button, a new on-device tech support service that allows HDX owners to essentially press one button and have an Amazon tech advisor respond immediately, remote in and show you how to do something on your own device. The support agent actually appears in a live video window, too, so it is very much one-on-one care.
Mayday has a clear consumer focus, but it’s also potentially a terrific feature for enterprise users. It means, in short, that organizations providing their employees with HDX tablets can save on in-house IT support and training, since Amazon provides all the basic help needed to get users familiar and comfortable using their devices. It’s a basic concern, but one that causes plenty of headaches for in-house IT.
Amazon has the right recipe for BYOD success with a low-cost tablet that’s powered by a strong consumer content ecosystem, but it’s now clearly investing a lot more time and effort into building out its enterprise value proposition. These new tablets make it a little more apparent that business and education are an opportunity they’re quite consciously targeting, so it’ll be interesting to see if enterprise buyers heed that call when the go on sale shortly.