Seventy percent of all personal computing devices sold this year will be smartphones or tablets -- and the consumerization trend is now "an unstoppable force" hitting IT departments. Those are some of the indications of the huge and growing impact of mobile computing in new data and projections from industry research firm Gartner.
These directions for mobile device technologies and management were presented Tuesday at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2012, currently being held in Barcelona, Spain.
The company said that mobile tech's huge impact on businesses continues to build. By 2016, Gartner said, two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone, and 40 percent of the workforce will be mobile. Tablets are driving that transition, with projections that more than 13 million units will be sold this year, and more than quadruple that number -- 53 million units -- by 2016.
'Apple Remains the Heartbeat'
The report predicted that 821 million smart devices will be purchased this year, and the number will reach 1.2 billion next year. Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement that smartphones and tablets "will not entirely replace PCs, but the ubiquity of smartphones and the increasing popularity of tablets" are changing businesses' and consumers' approach to such devices.
Android-based smartphones will continue to be the leading platform, according to the research firm. Currently, 34 percent of all smartphones use that operating system, but the platform's market share will increase to 56 percent within four years. The research organization said that the wide range of brands and price points is a key driver for the acceptance of Android devices, although "Apple remains the heartbeat by which the market moves."
Gartner points out that the proliferation of Android devices will continue to present challenges for IT departments. As just one example, a report recently released by Juniper Networks showed that Android apps, especially free ones, have a range of security and privacy issues. Google does not currently police apps for its Google Play marketplace as carefully as Apple, Research In Motion or Microsoft do theirs.
Windows 8 Tablets
The lineup of dominant platforms in the business market will be Android, Apple and Windows 8 well into 2016, Gartner said. Windows 8's big penetration into the business market is projected to be aboard tablets and tablet/laptop convertibles, with computers Gartner describes as "ultramobiles" and tablets reaching 39 percent of the market by that year.
That's good news for Microsoft's vision for tablets. The less-good news, according to Gartner, is that Windows 8 tablets will occupy third place behind Apple and Android in the business market for at least the next few years. Additionally, the research firm said Windows 8 tablets will find more success among business users than with consumers.
Gartner noted that Apple's acceptance into businesses' ecosystems has accelerated in the last 12 months, in part because of employees' passion for the technology giant's products. The research firm said that this is just the beginning of the "bring your own device" movement, however, as other technologies and services born in the consumer market will also become part of businesses' working environments.