By Barry Levine / Top Tech News. Updated May 19, 2014.
Google is getting more involved in the "bring your own device" trend. On Monday, a company called Divide, which provides a mobile platform for work and personal apps and files in a BYOD environment, announced it had been acquired by Google.
Terms of the deal were not made public, and Google has not commented on the transaction. The tech giant had previously been involved with Divide, since Google Ventures led $12 million in series B funding that the company, formerly called Enterproid, raised last fall. Other participants in that funding round included Comcast Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Globespan Capital Partners, and Harmony Partners.
On its Web site, Divide announced the acquisition and said the start-up would "work as it always has."
Divide offers an app for iOS and Android devices. For the enterprise, the Divide workspace separates business and personal programs and data on mobile devices, providing "government-grade encryption" for all protection. The start-up uses a container to isolate company information, where it can be managed by IT, from personal data.
Also provided is a suite of business apps for e-mail, calendar, contacts, files, Web browsing, tasks, document editing and cloud storage. An API allows companies to integrate third-party apps or to utilize cloud services like Box through the Divide workspace.
A cloud-based Web console, Divide Manager, enables IT departments to remotely enforce policies and compliance, and to oversee how devices are being used. The console provides the ability to push policies by group, restrict apps, set requirements for screen lock, implement data wipes or remotely view device inventory. Administrators can also track app inventory and usage, and there's enterprise app deployment, reporting, and a management API.
Free, Premium Versions
Divide uses the popular "freemium" model, with a basic version available at no cost, and a premium version at $60 per user per year.
The free version includes a separate work environment, business apps, enterprise-level encryption, screen lock for work data, and a self-service management feature for users called MyDivide. This user management includes the ability to lock or locate a device or remotely wipe data.
The premium version includes everything in the basic free version, plus the administrative Divide Manager and Divide Builder, with branding, customization, enterprise distribution, and version control, as well as extensions for VPN and Web Proxy.
The acquisition raises several possibilities for Google. It could allow the company to engage with business apps beyond its Google Apps for Business, and means that Google-owned software will be used to manage Android phones made and operated by the various manufacturers and carriers in the Android ecosystem. From its point of view, Google is now becoming more entrenched, owning an even bigger share of the interaction with end users and companies.
It also means that Google is better positioning itself to support businesses in their efforts to maintain control in the face of BYOD, in direct competition with such makers of mobile management suites as BlackBerry, Samsung, AT&T with its Toggle service, and others.