Mobile Communications

Kathryn Cave (Global) - Tablets 2020

Yesterday IDG Connect released global tablet research based on a survey of 3124 IT and business professionals. Kathryn Cave discusses the findings.

Most IT and business professionals have a work mobile, a work laptop and according to our latest findings, 71% now have a tablet. The vast majority of these (61%) use this daily for work. Of those who don’t own a tablet 80% intend to buy one over the next 12 months and increasingly high volumes of these will, presumably, use it for work. But what will this mean for business?

This May, an article in Infoworld looked at the top ten predictions for the 2020 CIO. Addressing the massive changes that will affect IT, it identified how the role of this department and individual will transform over the next eight years. From Bring Your Own Device to the gradual lessening of Microsoft’s power, mobility lies at the heart of all transformation. And the tablet, once denigrated as just a “toy” could be crucial to how things develop.

Which company will be the biggest player?

Many experts believe a shift towards a truly mobilized workforce could mean Microsoft’s reign over IT and business might finally be coming to an end. The introduction of the Windows 8 tablet later this year should provide an idea of how this will realistically play out in the tablet space, but at present all evidence suggests a raging battle between Apple iOS devices and Google Android. When we asked IT and business professionals in our recent survey who they believed would be the tablet market leader in 12 months’ time only 1% thought it would be the new Windows operating system, whilst 48% said Apple and 47% thought Google.

There is no question that iPads currently lead the tablet space, but this does not look to continue for much longer. Today 51% of our 3124 respondents stated they own an Apple device, compared to 38% who own an Android device. Yet the majority (44%) of future buyers intend to invest in an Android operated tablet. This is compared to 27% who definitely plan to buy an iPad and 21% who aren’t sure. Interestingly, only 3% said they would buy the Microsoft Windows 8 tablet.

The move towards Android is even more pronounced in emerging regions. In South America 50% of first time purchasers are opting for Android and only 21% Apple. Google is further solidifying itself in the marketplace. This is an incredible achievement for a company that has already created a brand new verb, changed the way information is accessed and impacted the way we build websites and catalogue information.

Enterprise tablets & BYOD

The most important thing about the Android tablets is they are not tied to any one piece of kit. The operating system is available on high end iPad contending devices, like the Samsung Galaxy series and lower cost unbranded devices. This pushes Apple into a niche and makes it important for consumers (and businesses?) to buy into the whole concept. The fact that you can’t even set up an Apple machine without an iTunes account affiliated to someone’s credit card must cause issues within some companies.

Interestingly, our research on tablets shows some clear splits in the way different tablet users are employing their device for work. Results reveal that 64% of iPad owners use the device daily for work, compared to 58% of Android device owners and 71% of BlackBerry tablet owners. This proves that whilst BlackBerry is still the favored work choice; iPads are very well used by professionals and that Android tablets are slowly creeping in to the workplace.

As BYOD becomes the norm Android tablets look set to rapidly seep into the office environment. Tim Naramore, CTO of Masergy, a managed network provider, believes by 2020 IT will mostly be charged with managing employee-owned devices. In his opinion over the coming decade workers will find their own computing devices and use them at work. This is significant as tablets are fundamentally different computing devices with entirely new capabilities. To get the real competitive advantage will require rethinking how tablets can be used to transform business processes.

Mobility and tablets appear to lie at the center of future business. This is a new space and big companies have everything to play for. Things are changing quickly and it will be fascinating to see how the industry pans out. At present Apple may inspire our love, but it looks like Google might demand our respect.

Kathryn Cave is Editor of IDG Connect.


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