Apple's iPhone Adoption to Hit 10% in SMBs, with Android G1 MIA

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-12-17

Apple's iPhone Adoption to Hit 10% in SMBs, with Android G1 MIA

Apple's iPhone, whose viability as a business-class smart phone is regularly questioned by experts, is expected to reach 10 percent of small and midsize businesses in 2009, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

While devices based on the BlackBerry and Windows mobile operating systems will continue to reign in the United States, Apple's iPhone 3G launch this year prompted businesses to consider adding support for iPhone's Mac OS X operating system, Forrester Research analyst Michele Pelino told eWEEK Dec. 17.

Apple put the iPhone 3G in this favorable position by enabling the handheld to run Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, e-mail, contacts and calendar, not to mention remote wiping capabilities in the event of device theft. Supporting Exchange, the dominant e-mail server, and security are practically table stakes for the adoption of smartphones in the enterprise. Pelino wrote in the note:

As a result, we believe that the iPhone will make a more significant dent in the enterprise mobility market, primarily among SMBs, which typically don't have as strict IT requirements as large enterprises or widespread line-of-business application deployments.

iPhone's key competition will not come from the T-Mobile G1, based on Google's Android operating system. Rather, Pelino said, the BlackBerry Storm, which like the iPhone and the G1 offers a touch-screen, will give larger enterprises that already support the BlackBerry an alternative to the iPhone.

Indeed, Pelino said she has entertained no conversations from customers about the G1. "That has not been on the radar screen in the inquiries I'm getting. I'll curious to see the results from our survey in Q1 in SMBs and large enterprises to see where the G1 comes out.

This is understandable; the gadget, which Google hopes is the first of what will be many such devices offering Google search and Google Apps, just launched in October. Moreover, the device didn't offer any support for Exchange.

RIM, Windows Mobile, Nokia's Symbian operating system (which is big in Europe), Palm and iPhone will set the pace in 2009 much as they did in 2008. Despite the deepening recession, companies will continue to place a high priority on mobility plans to boost productivity.

Enterprise Mobility to Be Ruled by Wannabes in 2009

Some 40 to and 60 percent of enterprises in North America and Europe surveyed by Forrester claimed more support for mobile technologies as a priority for the new year.

Much like the way unified communications and collaboration technologies help trim corporate travel budgets, mobile enterprise applications running on smartphones will let employees get work-related tasks done without traveling. Time saved from not traveling also boosts productivity, as Pelino claimed:

Many have already invested in the underlying infrastructure requirements, and the devices are out there. They've gotten things in place. They're going to continue to use that, and they're not going to stop, irrespective of the economy.

Interestingly, mobile initiatives will have a lower priority at SMBs, which will focus on their core business competencies during the difficult economic environment.

Pelino also sees strong growth in what she calls the "mobile wannabe" work force. This comprises the younger generation of executive assistants, human resource staffers and finance workers fresh from college who may have grown up using mobile devices from RIM, Palm or Apple. These workers opt to use their mobile devices to do work even while sitting in their cubicles.  

She predicts the number of workers in this segment will rise to nearly 10 percent by the end of 2009 and is expected to blossom at a compound annual growth rate of 46 percent through 2012. That the 10 percent figure mirrors the iPhone penetration rate with SMBs is no coincidence: Pelino says most of the mobile wannabes are in fact using the favored Apple handhelds.

Even so, she said vendors are already taking mobile wannabes into consideration when developing products and services. For example, Nokia's E71 smartphone takes into consideration the dual personal and professional use of devices by enabling users to establish multiple personas that have unique preferences and applications associated with them.

Of course, recessions can bring great opportunities for companies to cherry-pick talent or bargain shop for competing or complementary businesses. Enterprise mobility is no different, where incumbents, startups and service companies offer mobile apps, device management and security software.

Pelino expects mobile middleware vendors such as Sybase, or even CRM providers such as, to grab smaller location-based enterprise service providers.

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