Tablets Growing, Inside and Outside the Enterprise

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The Role of Tablets in the Enterprise

Tablets may one day soon take their place alongside PCs and smartphones as standard-issue IT equipment.

The inevitable move of communications technology from consumer to enterprise is under way for tablets. Of course, it has been for a while: Research In Motion's PlayBook and Cisco's Cius both are aimed at business. The move is gelling, however, according to recent research.

Indeed, four pieces of research were recently released that put the drive to give tablets to workers - as well as the ongoing growth in popularity of the devices in general - into context.

eChannel Line reports on the international study, which was conducted for the company by Redshift Research. The story says that employees still make three smartphone requests for each tablet for which they ask. The most valuable paragraph from the piece:

Of the countries surveyed, the US and France are tied for tops. Each report a tablet is requested by 21% of the workforce. Senior executives are most likely to be issued a tablet in the US (38%) and least likely to be issued one in the UK (27%) Tablets are significantly more prevalent among salespeople in Germany (31%) than in all other countries (21% on average).

The story offers a tremendous amount more information on a number of issues, including IT concerns, access to applications, access to servers and desirable features. The bottom line is that enterprises are taking tablets seriously - as well they should.

An overlay to this is the dominance of Apple in the enterprise, something that wouldn't have been thought likely just a few years ago. Apple Insider reports on Good Technology research revealing that during the fourth quarter of 2011, just about all enterprise tablet activations - 96 percent - were iPads. The study, which assessed its 2,000-plus company user base, found that 53 percent of smartphones rode on iOS. Thus, Apple accounted for 71 percent of enterprise mobile device activations during the quarter.

Those are interesting assessments of the high-level trends in the enterprise. It makes sense to juxtapose them with research on how tablets are progressing in the general population.

Strategy Analytics found a higher percentage of tablets among consumers riding on the Android operating system. PCMag reports on the finding that, on a worldwide basis, iPad's market share dropped to 58 percent during the fourth quarter of 2011, a 10 percent dip from the year-ago quarter. Android, meanwhile, rose from 29 percent to 39 percent during the same timeframe. In raw numbers, iPads outsold Androids 15 million to 10.5 million during the more recent quarter.

Finally, Pew Research found tablets making fast strides. IT Portal reports on the results, which say that 19 percent of American adults own a tablet. The stunning fact is that as late as mid-December, the percentage of ownership was 10 percent. The growth clearly was driven by e-readers.

There are four surveys here: two based on enterprise and two on consumer users. The bottom line is that tablets are growing more popular in both venues and that Apple is king. While it clearly won't lose its crown in the enterprise, its days of overwhelming dominance seem likely to fade.