Kathryn Cave (Africa) - African iPad Business Trends

The iPad and other mobile devices have had a huge impact on the way people around the world work. In this article, Kathryn Cave looks at the results of a brand new survey, and reveals the latest trends for iPad use in Africa.

IDG Connect’s 2012 research paper on global iPad business trends threw up some startling results on business iPad use in Africa.  In fact, the variances on this continent prove more marked than anywhere else in the world.  The most striking of our findings was that Africans appear almost twice as likely as the global average to have their iPad supplied by work. Our statistics show 47% state that their device was given to them by their employer, compared to the global mean of 24%.

This must in part be due to vast emphasis on mobile technology across the continent, but I also wonder if it provides more evidence of the rapid consumerisation of society and meteoric rise of an elite middle class.  There is such a cache attributed to Apple products that maybe the provision of a company iPad delivers a real extra benefit to employees?

This research certainly revealed an incredible brand loyalty to Apple. Only 17% of those surveyed globally (19% in Africa) said they would consider buying a different tablet device next time. Although more Africans said they favored the iPad because of its functionality (75%) than professionals from any other continent in in the world, with other reasons cited being “I always buy Apple products” (19% in Africa) “I have heard/ read good things about the iPad” and “It was given to me/ I did not choose”. 

Interestingly, 83% of Africans surveyed also stated that they always use their iPad at work, compared to a global average of 51%. However, this may be more a reflection of wireless connectivity issues, than of a natural predilection on the part of African professionals. This theory is slightly supported by the fact that only 43% of Africans claimed to always use the iPad at home, a statistic that falls 11% lower than the global average,  and the second lowest in the world (after Asia).

The iPad may have only launched two years ago this month, yet our results suggest it has already led to some astonishing changes in the way information is viewed.  Africans stood out as the people most likely to always use their iPad for work communications (70%) and web browsing (93%), and least likely to have their TV/DVD player replaced by the device (80%). In other respects, however, African responses were fairly standard and sat within the global average for those who now buy fewer physical books and newspapers (an incredible 70%), and the number for whom the iPad has partially replaced devices such as smartphones (43%), laptops (57%), PCs (33%), MP3 players (30%).

Overall, this research shows that the iPad has emerged as true work device. It has heralded seismic shifts in the way its users access and digest information. And it has shown that the African continent has its own unique business landscape. Maybe this highlights a bourgeoning entrepreneurial culture?  Perhaps it is a reflection of widespread mobile use? Or possibly differences are a symptom of broadband issues, and other disparities between Africa and the rest of the world? What do you think?

The full global research paper can be found here. This includes case studies on each continent.  Please add your comments below, or drop me a note at Kathryn_cave@idg.com. I will be back on Friday with a discussion on Apple brand loyalty.

By Kathryn Cave, e-Editor at IDG Connect