Google Now for businesses reportedly on the table as HP chases a Google partnership

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Android may be making some inroads into the iPhone-dominated enterprise market lately, but that doesn’t mean that Google is satisfied with its current position. According to a new report in The Information (paywall), Google has been discussing a partnership with HP to boost its enterprise presence, which would include a business-focused version of Google Now.

The report contains a lot of interesting tidbits about HP’s continued struggle to find a way to sell mobile devices. For instance, HP floated an idea to Google brass about an Android Nexus tablet geared toward business, complete with hardware encryption and a few other enterprise-specific features. Apparently, those talks went nowhere under previous Android chief Andy Rubin, and his successor Sundar Pichai hasn’t been too excited about the prospect either.

HP has been talking to Google for the past year about Android for business, predating the blockbuster IBM-Apple deal announced earlier this summer. In fact, the report says that HP had also talked to Apple about a “Siri for enterprise,” which was nixed when the IBM deal was announced. That deal, which is Apple’s first announced partnership targeting CIOs and IT purchasing departments, stands to further cement iOS as the BYOD platform of choice.

So Google needs to respond soon or businesses could find themselves locked into the iOS ecosystem before Android has its enterprise act together. HP is a potential partner with connections in the business IT market, and a Google Now for business data would be a feature that Apple couldn’t match. Details of its implementation are unclear at this point, as it’s not an official product, but would center around voice searches for information like financial data or product inventory. This raises several questions about whether Google would need access to data from businesses’ proprietary, private databases.

Meanwhile, HP is working on its own mobile voice search, which it is internally calling “Enterprise Siri.” It’s perhaps not the best sign for a product in development when its codename refers to the rival service it is copying.

Future versions of Android will have new features targeted at the enterprise, with security features like containerization and a brand new set of enterprise APIs. But the Apple-IBM deal underscores that a good product might not be enough in the enterprise market, and a partner who knows the space can be valuable not only for sales but also for application development. Google can certainly find a better enterprise partner than the floundering HP.

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