Samsung targets business users -- and BlackBerry -- with new app store

The Korean electronics giant is working with software developers, such as Citrix and SAP, to offer enterprise apps that have been tweaked to work better with Samsung's mobile devices features like S Pen.

Samsung Solutions Exchange will give business users apps that have been tweaked to take advantage of Samsung device features like S Pen.
Just when it seemed like things couldn't get more grim for BlackBerry, rival Samsung has made another grab for the company's core group of business users.

The Korean electronics giant on Wednesday unveiled its latest push in the mobile enterprise market -- the "Samsung Solutions Exchange," a sort of app store for business programs. The company isn't simply rounding up apps ideal for enterprise users. Rather, Samsung is talking with customers to find out what they need and then working with software developers to provide programs that use features specific to Samsung devices.

To do this, Samsung has released its device software development kit and more than 1,000 APIs to partners in the Samsung Solution Exchange. Those include smaller companies such as Xora and Citrix, and will eventually include bigger names such as SAP, Microsoft, and

"Historically, app providers gave a fully functioning app for desktop and a limited [version] on mobile," Tim Wagner, vice president and general manager of Samsung Mobile's enterprise business, told CNET. "Now companies want full functionality on mobile devices, and they want it on mobile first."

At launch, Samsung is not creating new apps but is helping software makers tweak their apps to take advantage of unique Samsung device features such as its S Pen, gestures, and screen mirroring. For example, health-related apps may now incorporate Samsung's gesture technology to allow ER doctors to use a tablet after they've already scrubbed in for surgery. Or other apps, such as the ProntoForm offering, will allow users to use the Air View function of Samsung's S Pen to see more info about a certain field on an electronic form. Samsung also will work with developers to make apps that work with its Galaxy Gear smartwatch.

Samsung, which became the world's largest smartphone vendor more than a year ago, has been aggressively ramping up its push to attract corporate users for its technology. The company launched Samsung for Enterprise, or SAFE, technology two years ago in an attempt to make its devices more business friendly. Its many features include encryption, VPN connectivity, and mobile device management capabilities such as remote wipe. And it also launched its Knox security platform to make its devices secure enough for the U.S. Defense Department and other organizations.

Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 includes new features for the S Pen. Josh Miller/CNET

While many companies have focused on mobile devices, traditional enterprise applications haven't always translated as well to smartphones and tablets. By working with developers and business solution providers, Samsung will ensure that apps work smoothly with its devices and include functionality beyond the standard versions available for Android and other mobile device operating systems. That could give the company an edge over rivals and help it attract more business users at a time the overall smartphone market is slowing.

For BlackBerry, Samsung's move couldn't come at a worse time. The company late last week threw in the towel on the consumer mobile market, saying instead that it would focus on the business and "prosumer" market. A few days later, BlackBerry revealed that it had agreed to sell itself for $4.7 billion. A big reason for its decline is the success of rivals like Samsung and Apple, not only with consumers but also with business users. Workers who bring their own devices to the office have tended to favor those from Apple and Samsung, rather than phones from BlackBerry.

Samsung doesn't disclose its share of the business user market, but it's clearly chipping away at BlackBerry's stronghold. The company considers enterprise users to be one of the top three biggest growth opportunities in mobile -- if not the biggest opportunity -- and it plans to become No. 1 in that market within the next 12 to 18 months, Wagner said.

"We're in a very unique position here in the US market and globally to accelerate our success based on the competitive positions of a few folks," Wagner said, though he declined to talk about BlackBerry specifically. "Because of what we're able to do on the device side and the security side and now focus on a very different engagement model with solutions, we're going to pick up a tremendous amount of momentum as we go into Q4 and 2014."

Here's the full list of Samsung's initial Solutions Exchange partners: Accellion; AccuCode -- AOBar and AOLaunchPad; Actsoft Advanced Wireless Forms; AirWatch; Apriva; Belkin -- Store and Charge, and Tablet Stage; BrainPop; CellTrak; CellTrust -- SecureSMS PULSE, SecureSMS COMMAND ANYWHERE, and SecureSMS TRACK ANYWHERE; Centrify; Citrix -- Podio and Receiver; clickSoftware -- ClickMobile and ClickSchedule; Comply 365; DecisionPoint -- ApexWare, ContentSentral, and Custom Mobile Application Development; Fiberlink -- MaaS 360; Genband Smart Office; LIA; Mi-Co; Mlevel; Mobelisk; MobileIron; Moki Mobility; ProntoForms; Samsung TecTiles; SoftPro -- SignDoc Mobile; Soonr Workplace; SOTI MobiControl; Stratix; Telenav; Ultimeta; XORA; XRS; and XYZMO SIGNificant Signature Capture.