Android tablets are poised to invade the enterprise
The iPad has owned the enterprise since its release three years ago, but recent data suggest Android tablets soon could be invading workplaces in far greater numbers than they have to date.
Research released Monday by technology consulting firm Strategy Analytics shows that Android had 67.0% of the global tablet market share in the second quarter, up from 51.4% in the year-ago quarter.
Meanwhile, Apple's iOS-powered iPads saw their share of the global tablet market plunge to 28.3% in Q2 from 47.2% a year earlier. (For what it's worth, Microsoft Windows tablets had 4.5% of the global tablet market share last quarter, up from 0.5% in Q2 2012.)
The other trend involves the anticipated growth in the number of enterprises that will purchase tablets for their employees to use. My CITEworld colleague Nancy Gohring reported on Monday about a survey of North American enterprises which shows an average annual growth rate of 64% for corporate-issued tablets over the next three years, versus a 31% growth rate for BYOD tablets.
While the purchase price is only 10% to 15% of the total cost of supporting a tablet, it's hard to imagine an enterprise embarking on a tablet acquisition strategy ignoring the healthy price difference between Apple's tablets ($499 for the iPad, $329 for the iPad Mini) and many Androids. Yes, you can spend more than $500 on an Android tablet, but the newly released Nexus 7 tablet -- which is garnering excellent reviews -- costs only $230.
The Strategy Analytics numbers show that Android's dominance of consumer tablet market share now rivals its dominance of consumer smartphones, where the Google mobile OS has nearly 75% global market share.
Which hasn't helped Android smartphones crack the enterprise. Data from mobile device management provider Good Technology shows that iOS-powered devices accounted for 77% of mobile activations in last year's Q4, with iPhones accounting for 55% alone. Android smartphones, in contrast, comprised only 21% of Good's enterprise activations, despite their dominance in the consumer market.
But as I argued recently, the disconnect between consumer and enterprise mobile market share can't continue indefinitely. If BYOD is about allowing employees to use the devices of their choice so that they are more productive, and if 75% of the population is walking around with Android devices, what are they going to eventually stroll into the office with?
Android has lagged in the enterprise primarily because of security concerns. But the world's largest Android manufacturer, Samsung, has launched two enterprise-level security platforms (SAFE and KNOX), and Google itself last week announced new security features for Android.
As time goes on it's likely that fewer enterprises will refuse to support Android devices due to security concerns. At some point it becomes impractical not to in this BYOD world. So data and common sense point to an increase in Android tablets in the enterprise. Get ready.
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