Today’s mobile workforce doesn’t look to the past. No more dragging around a heavy laptop and antiquated features phone. More than ever, employees believe tablets and smartphones are “critical productivity tools.” Tablets in particular, have the potential to take over as the defacto device in the enterprise, as least for certain sectors such as field and sales.
Overall, according to Tablet Ownership 2013, a report by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, “one-third of all American adults ages 18 and older own a tablet computer…” This is twice as many as one year ago.
Does that translate to the enterprise? According to the Good Technology Mobility Index Report Q1 2013, one out of four device activations in the workplace stems from a tablet, accounting for 27% of all device activations. The financial services industry, followed by business and professional services and insurance, are the verticals most likely to use tablets.
The iPad 3 is the most widely used tablet among Good’s customer base, “and Apple continues to hold a strong grasp on the tablet market with 88.4% of total activations.” But that doesn’t mean that Android isn’t surging — for Q1 2013, activations on this OS almost doubled among Good clients with the Samsung Galaxy S3 responsible for 5% of activations, down only slightly from 6% the quarter before. (In contrast, activations for Android smartphone activations were level to the Q4 2012.)
These results are in line with the GlobalWebIndex Stream Device Report — Q1 2013 confirms that tablet usage in general has increased a whopping 282% over just two years — between Q1 2011 and Q1 2013. The firm predicts that Android will account for almost 70% of tablet users by 2016.
The IDC Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker reports that global shipments of all smart connected devices (tablets, smartphones, PCs) will be more than 1.7 billion units by 2014, with 1.4 billion of those devices to be tablets and smartphones. (Also of note, about 1 billion units will be delivered to emerging markets.)
Let’s do the math. The anticipated shipments for PCs will amount only to 300 million units shipped. This form factor is clearly on the decline. Gartner also estimates the traditional PC market, including notebooks and desk-based units, to decrease 7.6% in 2013.
Megha Saini, Research Analyst, IDC, attributes the tablet and smartphone position to “usage patterns, device affordability, and, most of all, the comfort of a mobile and digital lifestyle.” As shipments went up, the average selling price has decreased, especially in emerging markets. And with the tablet’s popularity came a surge in apps.
PCs are even rapidly being replaced by tablets in education, where along with Apple, Samsung and the other major players, has attracted unlikely contenders such Amplify, a division of News Corp. to get in on the action. The IDC estimates that 8.5 million devices went to U.S. education in 2012 (notebooks, desktops and tablets) with tablets seeing an increase of 103%, year over year. As the 2013 school season starts, the growth for tablets in this sector is expected to continue.
What About BlackBerry and Windows?
BlackBerry has little dominance when it comes to smartphones now, let alone tablets, as the PlayBook is barely mentioned.
And it doesn't look like there will be any new play in tablets for the company any time soon. CEO Thorsten Heins told Bloomberg.com in April that he doesn't see the need for tablets in five years anyway.
The GlobalWebIndex Stream Device Report also noted that Windows 8 accounted for just 9.8 million tablet users in Q1 2013. Microsoft, which is synonymous with the enterprise, was banking on Windows 8 ability to run Office 2013 and other key applications. However, the company bet badly with its new OS and will have to pin its hopes on returning the familiar start button back to users.
Despite the current pitfalls, others have faith that the tech giant will pull it out in the end, which is surely a good sign. Acer, for example, recently unveiled its 8-inch Windows 8 tablet — the Iconia W3 —but a launch date has not yet been confirmed. In addition, Xplore has made its iX104C5 rugged tablets compatible with Windows 8. These devices are commonly used in the field, from utilities and manufacturing, to oil, gas and military, among other verticals.
Take Advantage of the Take Over
What does all this growth really mean? On both the enterprise and consumer-facing sides, companies need to take note and take advantage. The GlobaWebIndex stated that “tablet users now drive online content consumption.”
Apple has bragged that not only are people buying its devices, they are actually “using” them at an incredibly high rate as well. The majority of demographics in the studies above also point to the fact that tablet owners have above average incomes.
So when it comes to employees and technology, user adoption is a huge part of success, but it can also be an obstacle. With tablets, this barrier is essentially non-existent; businesses can get ahead now by deploying tablets as the form factor for process transformation. For organizations with commodities to sell — be it products or content — they had better be serving up sales and information where the “consumer” is or risk losing dollars.