Android, Apple Dominate at Home but Share Work With BlackBerry

Android, Apple and BlackBerry devices are roughly equally represented in the workplace, says a new Forrester survey, despite Apple and Android's perceived dominance.

The tussle for dominance between Apple iPhones and Google Android smartphones is the main story in the consumer device space. But a new global survey from Forrester Research shows a different story in the workplace.

When nearly 4,000 information workers were asked which operating system their work device runs, Apple, Android and Research In Motion's BlackBerry-despite all the funeral marches that have been played for RIM's brand of late-were shown to be used in roughly equal numbers, according to Forrester's Forrsights Workforce and Hardware report. Each held more or less a quarter of the overall market, with the final quarter going to an "other" category comprised of Nokia's Symbian, Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Windows 7, Hewlett-Packard's webOS, Linux and Samsung's Bada.

"This data shows the time lag in installed base users of smartphones used for work versus the story coming out of smartphone shipment trends, which focus on the ongoing competition between Android and Apple's iOS," Forrester analyst Frank Gillett wrote in a Jan. 29 blog post. "So even though BlackBerry share of sales has slipped, it's still the smartphone used for work by 26% of information workers across our 17-country sample, second only to Android at 27%, with Apple iOS at 24%."

Gillett pointed readers to a Jan. 29 story in The New York Times, which offered an overview of a story that has been playing out in eWEEK and other tech sites for some time: RIM's BlackBerry is fighting a desperate fight to retain its business base in the United States, while being heartily embraced by business workers in developing economies.

"Android and Apple together are eating BlackBerry's lunch," the Times quoted Gillett as saying.

(Perhaps it was sharing a table with the Galaxy Tab; analytics firm Flurry recently suggested that Amazon, with its Kindle Fire, is eating Samsung's lunch.)

Despite international markets helping to keep the BlackBerry-maker afloat, RIM's co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis acknowledged Jan. 22 that a drastic change was needed and announced they were ceding their shared role to COO Thorsten Heins.

The newly minted CEO, in a corporate video, said a first order of business would be inserting more discipline into RIM's processes.
"I want to spend more time on prototyping, on exploring, on research and development," Heins said.

Meanwhile, Apple and Android have been playing out their tit-for-tat. During the fourth quarter of 2011, Apple regained the role of No. 1 smartphone maker that Android-supporter Samsung had stolen from it the quarter before. Still, Samsung took the top prize for the full year. Growing 278 percent year-over-year, it shipped a total of 95 million handsets, sliding past Apple's 93 million. RIM didn't make the top five.

What will become of those pie quarters in 2012?

Gillett, in a Jan. 26 post, noted the increased presence of Apple products in public places and work environments. At large infrastructure software companies he visited, he writes, CTOs were using Macs and mocking the Windows holdouts for pecking at typewriters.

Getting more formal about it, Forrester asked 3,300 IT decision makers what they were buying and supporting and 10,000 IT workers about what they use to get work done at home and at work. What they found was one in five workers using one or more Apple devices, most often the iPhone. Additionally, the workers most likely to use Apple devices were those in the highest pay brackets and the lowest age brackets.

While non-U.S. users are those currently helping out RIM, Forrester also found information workers in countries outside of North America and Europe "more likely to use Apple products for work."