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Is Enterprise Enthusiasm for Tablets Already Waning?

Is Enterprise Enthusiasm for Tablets Already Waning?

Summary: It may take a lot to convince some IT managers that tablets, especially those owned by employees, don't cause security and management holes.

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Bring Your Own Device is responsible for the vast majority of tablets being used inside companies and organizations today. But caution towards BYOD could also cause tablet enterprise growth to slow dramatically, according to one analyst firm.

According to Strategy Analytics analyst Gina Luk, 30 million tablets purchased around the world last year were used inside companies, organizations or schools. Luk calls those 'business tablets,' and their usage grew 405%, from 7.4 million in 2010.

Of those 30 million tablets, only one-sixth (5 million) were 'corporate-liable,' meaning they were purchased or reimbursed to an employee by a company, said Luk. The vast majority (25 million) were 'personally-liable,' meaning that employees purchased them using their own money and brought them into work via BYOD policies.

Taking the entire 2011 tablet market (about 67 million says Strategy Analytics-see other market estimates here) in 2011, 37% were bought by consumers for use at work, says Luk. 55% were purchased by consumers but used for recreation only, with only 8% actually bought or reimbursed by companies.

Three factors are driving the rise in business tablets, says Luk: BYOD demand from workers, ongoing drops in tablet prices (about 10-15% this year alone, predicts Luk) and increased marketing from enterprise-focused system integrators.

And driven by the increased supply in enterprise apps, Luk expects corporate-purchased tablets to double to 18% to 20% of the overall market by 2015, up from 8% in 2011. Financial service firms and healthcare organizations will be the fastest adopters.

"Android will catch up, but we still see Apple's iPad dominating in this market," she said.

Lust, Caution

Despite the demand for tablets at work, the trend is already starting to slow down. After growing fourfold from 2010 to 2011, Luk expects the number of business tablets to grow just 33% to 40 million tablets this year, and only another 40% over the following three years to 56.2 million business tablets sold in 2015.

Why the extreme slowdown? According to Luk, blame a backlash against BYOD by companies suddenly worried about the security and management holes they may be creating.

"With growth in BYOD, we also see it will present major threats with access to the corporate network," said Luk. "Thus enterprises will take precautions to evaluate their internal needs. Uptake of tablets will become gradual and not a sudden year-over-year jump."

She also cited BYOD's unpopularity outside of North American firms, due to strict data privacy laws in Europe and the unfamiliarity with the concept in Asia.

My take: European data privacy laws are indeed a formidable obstacle, but they can be overcome by motivated CIOs and the right mobile device management (MDM) tools. My parent company, SAP, is using new features in Sybase Afaria to separate corporate and individual data on mobile devices, thus satisfying EU regulations around individual data rights.

Also, I think Luk underestimates the uptick in corporate-liable adoption of tablets that will be driven by enterprise apps. I've profiled a number of companies that adopted tablets because of a desire to use one particular app: British insurer Aviva, which is using a custom-built app running on BlackBerry PlayBooks to mobilize its field reps, General Mills, which arms its salespeople with an SAP CRM app and others. This, I think, will grow, as companies reap the ROI of such deployments.

Topics: UberMobile, Android, Google, Hardware, iPad, Laptops, Mobility, BlackBerry, Tablets

Eric Lai

About Eric Lai

I have tracked technology for more than 15 years, as an award-winning journalist and now as in-house thought leader on the mobile enterprise for SAP. Follow me here at ÜberMobile as well as my even less-filtered musings on Twitter @ericylai

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