Apple, Google, Microsoft to Power 90% of Smartphones, Tablets

Oh RIM, where art thou? A new Forrester Research report notes that Apple, Google and Microsoft will command the lion's share of smartphones and tablets. The evolving mobile market will also require CIOs to appoint a chief mobility officer.

Among the many pearls of wisdom from Forrester Research's new report on the impact of mobile technologies in the business world, is the notion that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will provide the software platforms for more than 90 percent of smartphones and tablets worldwide.

That leaves little room for enterprise mobility stalwart Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), whose declining market share and decaying brand have made it both the target of sour jokes and the recipient of hushed condolences.

If there is a light in RIM's dark sky, it's that some 1 billion consumers will have smartphones by 2016, including 350 million corporate workers, 200 million of which will bring their own personal smartphones into the workplace for professional communications.

That goes for tablets, too, according to Forrester analysts Ted Schadler and John McCarthy, who co-authored the report "Mobile Is the New Face of Engagement." The analysts culled their data from talking to 3,534 CIOs, IT managers and other corporate managers around the world.

"Smartphones and tablets are valuable enough at work that employees will buy their own," Schadler and McCarthy wrote. "Today, employees pay for more than half of the devices and data plans used for work across every region. The same is true for tablets: Employees pay for 70 percent of the tablets used for work."

Yet, surely, not all of Forrester's massive addressable mobile market will be filled by iPhones, iPads, Android machines, or Windows Phone handsets and slates. This means the BlackBerry, still entrenched in many large businesses worldwide, has a legitimate shot to bounce back from its dead period.

Still, this poses quite the quandary for the chief information officers in large enterprises worldwide. Should businesses stick with RIM, whose new CEO Thorsten Heins had vowed to stay the course and compete with the iPhones and Droids with phones based on the BlackBerry 10 operating system?

Or should CIOs throw open the doors to the so-called bring-your-own-device policies that are increasingly prevalent among companies? This has already happened in certain, limited instances.

For example, Fender, which fancies itself a progressive enabler of new technologies, encourages employees to bring their iPhones and Android handsets into the workplace.

These are things technology purchasers must consider. Of course, the hardware is still the shell in which greater things are conceived.

Forrester anticipates business workers will use context-aware apps and smart products. Corporate road warriors will check status, find knowledge experts, make purchases and conduct other communications from smartphones leveraging location-based services.

In one practical example from Forrester, a system of engagement presented on a smartphone will know that a guest has entered the lobby for the first time and if he or she is likely to check in.

By using GPS or location context from the device, the hotel guest system will know that "when you enter your room, the app should default to the concierge and room service tabs, thus providing immediate access to these hospitality services."

To that end, Forrester said CIOs must go so far as to create a new position called CMO, with the "M" standing for "mobility" instead of "marketing."

The CMO will design applications and policies around mobile technologies first, fueling "profitable growth with stickier offerings and mobile self-service."