For enterprise, mobile devices about to become irrelevant

Samsung and Apple are duking it out for corporate device dominance, but the real mobility score is on the back end with cloud services and the software needed to manage endpoints.

Samsung has revved up a services engine to better target enterprises and sell Galaxy tablets and smartphones. Apple has paired up with IBM to drive enterprise sales of iPhones and iPads. And Microsoft has Nokia, Surface and other devices. But a funny thing is happening on the mobility front when it comes to real business: The actual device is becoming irrelevant.

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One big takeaway from the Gartner Symposium ITXpo last week was that mobility is a much broader topic than smartphones and tablets. Sure, there's bring your own device and companies need to keep employees happy with tech gear. But the end game here isn't the device as much as the software in the background that manages it. You can't separate the cloud and mobility. If you don't have one you're not going to have the other. As sensors relaying data back to the enterprise proliferate device wars are going to become irrelevant.

Samsung vs. Apple is a nice gadget war that's fun. That battle also has a short shelf life within corporations. A Gartner presentation highlights the enterprise mobility moving parts.

mobilityenterprise gartner

Gartner analyst David Willis said Apple is expected to represent 40 percent of the device share in the enterprise in 2016 followed by 20 percent for Samsung, which is pushing B2B hard, and 9 percent for Microsoft.

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Does the device share matter though?

Maybe not. Apple will sell a ton of devices and capture the healthiest profit margin in the industry. But revenue on the back end won't be a factor. Samsung will make Android more popular in the enterprise and could capture some services and software revenue. Microsoft won't be a huge device player, but will have its enterprise mobility suite coupled with Office 365 and a lot of back-end tools to sell. BlackBerry will still be found in the enterprise, but the future rests on its BlackBerry Enterprise Server 12 launching in November.

What vendor would you rather be? The Gartner graphic highlights how the actual device is just a part of the enterprise mix. The real money and enterprise mindshare will be made on software and services. In the final analysis, every device, sensor and thing will simply be an endpoint to manage, secure and serve up data. 

Device wars are fun, but for real business it's just a sideshow.

ZDNet's Monday Morning Opener is our opening salvo for the week in tech. As a global site, this editorial publishes on Monday at 8am AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6pm Eastern Time on Sunday in the US. It is written by a member of ZDNet's global editorial board, which is comprised of our lead editors across Asia, Australia, Europe, and the US.

Previously on Monday Morning Opener

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