Apple Mobile Devices Dominate Small Business Market

Apple's iOS operating system was the clear leader in new device activations among small businesses.

It appears Apple’s mobile devices, including the iPhone 5 and iPad and iPad mini tablets, are finding favor among small and midsize businesses, according to a Dec. 12 report from cloud services provider Intermedia.

For the last three months of available data, September through November of this year, Apple's iOS operating system was the clear leader in new device activations among Intermedia SMBs with 68.2 percent of all mobile device activations. Google's Android operating system followed Apple with 25.1 percent, while BlackBerry devices, manufactured by Research in Motion (RIM) ranked third with 4.1 percent. Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system landed in fourth place with 2.6 percent, according to the survey.

Intermedia, which manages more than 500,000 hosted Microsft Exchange email accounts, also reviewed the number of tablets its customers activated to sync their email, contacts and calendars, finding a whopping 92.6 of total activations were for Apple’s iPad. Way back in second place was RIM’s BlackBerry Playbook, with 5.3 percent and Microsoft’s Windows Surface taking the third spot with 2.1 percent share.

The report also noted the recent iPhone upgrade and release of the Surface tablet gave Apple and Microsoft a boost—the iPhone 5 hit stores in late September and in the first month Apple device activations jumped 22 percent, while Surface activations grew 45 percent month-over-month since it arrived in stores in late October.

"Our customers are using their smartphones and tablets like never before," Intermedia president Michael Gold said in a statement. "For example, they are using hosted PBX to route calls to their mobile devices, they can read voicemails as emails while in a meeting; and they can access their data via cloud server. With their business communications in a secure, business-grade cloud, users have anywhere, anytime mobile access to their messaging, contacts, calendars, files, and applications."

Apple’s dominance of the SMB market comes on the heels of a report from Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu, which raised their iPhone forecast to 47.5 million units (from 47.3 million). However, Wu said the company would reducing sales of iPad units to 23.5 million from 25 million, in part due to supply chain issues affecting the iPad mini, which are limiting Apple’s ability to meet demand for the device, and the cannibalization of iPad sales by the iPad mini.

A report earlier this year from IT research firm IDC suggested midmarket companies are looking to invest in a variety of PC form factors, with particularly high levels of interest in notebooks and media tablets. The small business segment will spend nearly twice as much as the midsize segment and more than the entire large enterprise segment on PCs and peripherals in 2012, according to the April study.