Key Trends in Business Mobility

Mobility is evolving rapidly, and its impact on the workforce is profound. But beyond a powerful move toward consumerization and its growing effect on the enterprise, some interesting trends are emerging, particularly in the smartphone and tablet spaces.

The recently released “SMB Mobile Trends Report” from managed services and hosting firm Intermedia snaps a number of these key developments and trends into sharp focus—and highlights what business users are actually doing in the personal technology space.

Among other things, Apple dominates the mobile space and its influence on the enterprise and IT is profound. It now claims 68 percent of all newly activated devices at small and medium businesses (SMBs) on the Intermedia network. Samsung landed in second place at 17 percent, and Motorola and LG landed a distant third at only 3 percent. Interestingly, the iPhone 6 launch led to 50 percent more activations on the hosting firm’s network than the previous iPhone 5s/5c launch.

“The conventional wisdom is that Android has greater market share, but that’s for the general population,” says Michael Gold, Intermedia’s president. “For business users … this study is significant because it shows that Apple is the dominant choice. This has implications on BYOD [bring your own device] and BYOS [bring your own security] strategies. Business leaders should consider whether ‘business mobility’ and ‘Apple’ are becoming synonymous.”

Another interesting sidelight is that while Samsung’s market position has improved slightly—it now claims about 16.7 percent of SMB activations on the Intermedia network compared to 14.9 percent at the end of 2013—it doesn’t appear to be poaching smartphone users from Apple. Most of these activations appear to be coming from other manufacturers of Android devices.

The trend toward larger phones is apparent too. Overall, about 76 percent of iPhone 6 activations involve the 4.7-inch diagonal display, while about 24 percent involve the larger 5.5-inch diagonal display. The iPhone 6 represents Apple’s initial foray into the phablet market.

Apple’s influence in the operating system space—at least in the mobile arena—is equally significant. According to Intermedia, iOS now accounts for about 68 percent of all device activations, followed by Android (26 percent), Windows Phone (3 percent) and BlackBerry (1 percent). As recently as 2009, BlackBerry accounted for about 20 percent of the overall smartphone market share.

Although smartphones represent the bulk of activity in the enterprise mobile arena, they certainly aren’t the only factor to keep an eye on. In 2014, 13.7 percent of all newly activated devices on Intermedia’s network were iPads. However, this represents a significant decline from 16.2 percent in 2013 and 18.6 percent in 2012. It’s unclear whether the change is due to a shrinking market, slower upgrade cycle, thinner and more tablet-like laptops, or the popularity of phablets.

Business and IT leaders should stay tuned to the fast-moving mobile space, Gold says. “As the Apple ecosystem expands, business and IT must respond,” he advises. “For example, it may be time for business leaders to consider how the Apple Watch fits into their IT strategy. Business users may soon be using it for professional purposes.”