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Tablets in the Enterprise: Competitive Landscape for Devices in 2011

| May 31, 2011 | Business Technology and Software, Consumer Devices
| Analysts:
  Avi Greengart, Research Director, Consumer Devices
  Brian Riggs, Research Director, Business Technology and Software

Click here to download report (100 KB PDF)

When Apple singlehandedly created the market for tablets less than a year and a half ago, one of its least expected consequences was the almost immediate popularity of tablets in the enterprise. Apple, after all, designed a product for consumers with the needs of business users as little more than an afterthought. But the form factor, simple interface and the huge variety of apps captured the imagination of office workers, as many as 7.5 million of whom are estimated to now be using them at least in part for their work. To business users, tablets are more of a computing platform than their smartphones, and compared to laptops they are portable, and intrinsically mobile with embedded WiFi and cellular connectivity. The iPad’s popularity in business settings was further cinched by the wide range of business applications that are available from the Apple App Store, providing office productivity, document workflow, business analytics, email, instant messaging, Web and video conferencing, as well as applications for specific industries (e.g., healthcare).

However, the sudden proliferation of iPads has frustrated IT departments and CIOs. The devices tend not to be subject to the same security and compliance policies that are applied to work-issued PCs and laptops. The security software and business productivity software that end users run on their devices do not match those deployed elsewhere in the enterprise, creating support complexities. Mobile device management (MDM) tools for smartphones are not being extended to tablets. And tablets can bypass IT procurement processes that help rein in the purchase, deployment and support of devices and software that businesses provide employees.

The market for tablets is expected to grow from 17 million tablets sold in 2010 to more than 149 million in 2015, generating $49 billion. Apple’s rivals fear that this is the next big evolution in computing, and not only might they not get as big a share as they currently have in the PC and mobile phone markets, they could get locked out altogether because Apple possesses the most widely adopted tablet platform. In introducing tablets of their own these rivals hope, at best, to knock Apple off of the tablet throne in the business realm or, at the very least, to assert their relevance in a market where they presently have little to no role. One of the ways they are doing this is by attacking iPad’s perceived weaknesses as a business tool. Each rival is introducing platforms that are expected to be richer in support for business applications, better tied into enterprise communications and collaboration environments, and more effective in protecting sensitive corporate data. This report will examine the strategies and products of the major developers releasing tablets either specifically designed for use in the enterprise or designed for consumers, but finding themselves into the workplace nonetheless.


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