Android, Apple to Lead Smartphone, Tablet Sales Surge: Gartner

RIM and Microsoft will also play a role in the surge, but Apple and Android devices are expected to be the top players in an ever-growing smart device market.

Smart devices will account for 70 percent of total devices sold in 2012, and 821 million smart devices (smartphones and tablets) will be purchased worldwide this year, passing the billion mark in 2013, according to a report from IT research firm Gartner. The report predicted tablets would be the key accelerator to mobility, estimating that in 2012, purchases of tablets by businesses will reach 13 million units and will more than triple by 2016, to reach 53 million units.

“For most businesses, smartphones and tablets will not entirely replace PCs, but the ubiquity of smartphones and the increasing popularity of tablets are changing the way businesses look at their device strategies and the way consumers embrace devices,” Gartner research vice president Carolina Milanesi said in a statement. “In 2016, two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone, and 40 percent of the workforce will be mobile.”

Gartner analysts estimate that 56 percent of smartphones purchased by businesses in North America and Europe will be Android devices in 2016, up from 34 percent in 2012 and virtually zero penetration in 2010, although the increasing penetration of Android in the enterprise will continue to pose challenges for the IT department and the CIO to ensure that security and manageability remain a priority. Despite these security concerns, smart devices powered by Android and Apple’s iOS platform are expected to advance deeper into the enterprise at the expense of Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry devices.

“Today, the wide range of brands and price points that the Android ecosystem is offering is winning over users. While Apple remains the heartbeat by which the market moves, Google has rapidly become its archrival,” Milanesi said. “As businesses are looking for a multi-device strategy and a rich application portfolio, it is clear that RIM has a huge challenge ahead in regaining its key presence in the enterprise.”

A fourth competitor, Microsoft, is taking a big risk in betting the latest version of its operating system, Windows 8, will connect with consumers and business customers. The interface is a radical departure from the Windows operating systems in past years and is designed to take advantage of an increasingly mobile and touch-based world. Gartner estimates that the share of Windows 8 tablets and "ultramobiles" in businesses will reach 39 percent in 2016 and projected Windows 8 would take the No. 3 position in the business tablet market behind Apple and Android by 2016.

“In just 12 months, businesses have moved from resisting Apple to accepting its devices in the organization. CIOs who balance workers' passion for Apple with the needs of IT will reap surprising benefits and prepare the business for entry of other consumer-market vendor technologies, as this is just the beginning,” Milanesi said.