An Elite Force

Salesforce Pares Mobile Support in the Face of a Growing Duopoly

Did your device make the cut?

Last week Salesforce announced that it would significantly limit the number of supported mobile devices for Salesforce1, the firm’s mobile customer relationship management (CRM) app.

Starting with the release of the app in winter 2017, tested and officially supported Android smartphones will be: Samsung’s Galaxy S5, S6 and S7 and Note 4; and Google’s Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P devices. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 is not listed among supported devices.

Supported Android tablets will only include the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and the Samsung Tab A 9.7 models. For Apple smartphones, the iPhone 5s and above handsets will be supported. Salesforce says it’s dropping support for the iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3 and iPad 4, leaving us to assume the iPad Mini 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro series of tablets will be supported.

Users of devices that haven’t made this shortlist can still download and install the upcoming version of the Salesforce1 app, which will be available in October 2016. But for many enterprises using the CRM tool, Salesforce has suddenly become involved in the hardware decision-making process. IT departments in many of Salesforce’s client companies will now limit the device selection to the Salesforce VIP list.

The decision by Salesforce is not about favouritism but a matter of pure pragmatism, reflecting the total devices in use. There is a virtual duopoly at the high end of the mobile hardware market and Salesforce is recognizing and reinforcing the fact.

Additionally, Salesforce’s move underlines the difficulty in delivering a competitive user experience in a highly fragmented mobile environment. Salesforce1, with its developer environment and management capabilities, has been evolving into a wider enterprise platform beyond simply a mobile CRM app. Delivering expanding functionality across this fragmentation has been difficult and costly. Recently, the firm supported the need for app management standards based on the operating systems of iOS and Android for Work through the AppConfig Community for precisely this reason.

Unsurprisingly, given the lack of business market traction, there are no LG- or HTC-branded phones and no BlackBerry devices. Windows phones and the BlackBerry Priv didn’t make the cut either. A major provider of business software is endorsing only three hardware makers in total and only two brands powered by Android. For very practical reasons, Salesforce is walking away from the long tail of Android devices.

This is a ringing endorsement for Samsung, solidifying the company as an enterprise brand at a time when BlackBerry’s and Microsoft’s share of corporate hardware mobility fades to near zero. This comes as Samsung’s Knox mobile security solution has been gaining endorsements from governments and corporations.

Other hardware makers will have to earn their way onto sanctioned lists of products such as the one created by Salesforce, one of the major app providers in the enterprise segment, but getting there won’t be easy. Despite the growing commodification of the Android market in which so many devices are nearly equal, it seems some are more equal than others.