news 40 percent of Australian enterprises now see the iPhone as their preferred staff smartphone model, new research has revealed, in a remarkable demonstration of just how dramatically Apple’s flagship handset has shaken up the nation’s corporate mobile fleets over the past four years.
When the iPhone was first introduced to Australia in July 2008, the majority of Australia’s large enterprises and small businesses were using either Research in Motion’s BlackBerry platform or Microsoft’s Windows Mobile alternative, with smartphones from rival vendors such as Nokia also taking a strong chunk of the market. However, in new research revealed today, analyst firm Telsyte noted that the landscape had shifted dramatically over the past few years.
“Australia’s business smartphone market has traditionally been dominated by RIM’s BlackBerry and Nokia’s Symbian-based devices, but in 2012 Apple iOS leads the charge with Android-based smartphones from Samsung and HTC also rising in popularity,” the firm said in a statement. “Both Apple’s and Google’s entrance in the smartphone market has paid off in the Australian business space with nearly 40 per cent of enterprises now citing the iPhone as their preferred brand of smartphone.”
Telsyte surveyed some 250 chief information officers and ICT decision-makers within Australian enterprises for the study.
Senior analyst Rodney Gedda said CIOs were committed to supporting a heterogeneous mobile operating system landscape, with Apple’s iOS top of the support intention scale and Android second. “Despite its low penetration right now, CIOs are also looking to support Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform which is set to provide an alternative to iOS and Android,” he said. “And with the release of Windows 8 nearing, businesses will have another mobile platform to choose from for smartphones and media tablets.”
“Even with the proliferation of more powerful smartphones in recent years, most Australian organisations (52 per cent) are still purchasing mobile handsets and services for people to use for work, with the remainder allowing BYOD,” Gedda added. “This has allowed more consumer-oriented devices like the iPhone and Android-based devices to garner a greater share of the business smartphone market.”
Over the past several months a number of major Australian enterprises have revealed a switch to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform running on Nokia’s Lumia range of handsets. In late June, for example, Australian iron ore group Fortescue metals declined to comment on an unverified rumour that the company has recently deployed over 600 new staff smartphones, allegedly swapping out its existing BlackBerry fleet in the latest corporate switch to Microsoft’s rival Windows Phone 7 ecosystem.
In late May, the Australian division of tyre manufacturer Bridgestone has also picked Nokia’s Windows Phone 7-based Lumia 800 smartphone as its platform of choice for its corporate smartphone fleet, and CommBank is similarly considering a move to the Nokia Lumia platform. Nokia has also revealed that construction firm Buildcorp has deployed some 150 new staff mobile phones in the Finnish smartphone vendor’s Lumia line.
However, despite the increasing penetration of smartphones into the enterprise, Telsyte found most organisations weren’t doing a good job of managing the devices. “… only about 10 per cent of enterprises [are] using dedicated [mobile device management] software to centrally manage mobile devices,” the organisation noted in its statement.
Gedda said both BlackBerry and Nokia Symbian devices had a history with MDM in business, but newer smartphones like the iPhone and handsets running Android and WP7 were ideal targets for cross-platform MDM delivered by in-house IT and service providers. “Implementing MDM to manage the device will allow businesses to maintain control of their data whether the smartphone is owned by the company or the individual,” Gedda says. “This is particularly relevant as more people bring their own device to the workplace.”
The most prevalent application used on the smartphones was email, alongside social media and traditional web browsing, but Gedda said there was potential for enterprise customer relationship management, business intelligence, vertical industry applications and other software to be used through smartphones as well.
And tablets are taking off as well — but again, RIM is missing out on the action.
“In addition to smartphones, the reception of non-Windows media tablets in business has been positive with 46 per cent of organisations allowing the use of business-supplied media tablets for work,” Telsyte noted. “Apple iPads (Wi-Fi & 3G) now make up 90 per cent of the business tablet market with the remainder made up of Android-based devices (Samsung Galaxy and Motorola Xoom). The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is yet to make a significant impact with around 1 per cent of the market.”
Telsyte’s analysis appears spot on, to me, and gels with what I’m seeing in the wild. iOS has started to dominate the Australian enterprise (both with the iPhone and iPad), but organisations are not necessarily applying the best tools to manage their mobile fleets. BlackBerry is being shunted aside while more modern operating systems grab all the limelight.
Perhaps the only really surprising part in Telsyte’s analysis is its focus on Android. While I am sure Android use is rife within small business (as it is with consumers), I haven’t seen much of it being used officially within large enterprise. Instead, I am seeing strong interest and a number of rollouts of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform, which is perhaps more easily integrated with existing IT infrastructure than Android.
I haven’t yet heard of any major Australian organisations officially supporting Android smartphones in their operations. I’d love to hear of some rollouts in this area; drop me a line through Delimiter’s anonymous tips form if you know of any.