By Steve Anderson
, Contributing TMCnet Writer
A new report from VDC Research suggests something of a double-edged sword in the enterprise mobility device market to come. While the market is expected to grow over the next few years, and by a fairly healthy margin, there are some significant problems underneath that growth, especially for makers of enterprise mobility devices.
The VDC Research report, conducted annually on the overall state of the global device market, suggests growth from 2012 levels—220.4 million units at a total value of $116.2 billion—to reach fully 306.9 million units and $138.6 billion in 2017. That's pretty good news for those in the field, sure enough—it's hard not to be happy when the analyst reports suggest big market growth—but at the same time, the tales of growth mask some deeper issues, at least, according to the reports.
Perhaps the biggest hit the report suggests will go to Microsoft (News - Alert), whose status as the operating system of choice in said mobile devices isn't anywhere near as sure as it once was. Of note are several missteps that made for big problems for both device vendors and enterprise users, who were left waiting in the wings to see if Microsoft could get its mobile strategy back on track. But device vendors don't have long to wait when it comes to making sales—and enterprise users don't have much longer to wait, either, as said users are eager to get a more mobile workforce in play—so the two fields may well end up bidding farewell to Microsoft to deal in devices that have a more functional game plan.
More specifically, according to VDC's Mobile and Connected Devices Practice vice president David Krebs, there's a “window of opportunity” opening up for Android (News - Alert) and iOS, as interest in both is on the rise. This makes particular sense as these devices, which started out mobile, clearly have a mobile strategy well in hand.
What's more is the overall migration in terms of types of devices used, and what that may mean for the large market. Notebook sales are staying fairly flat, while tablets are gaining ground throughout much of the field. Interestingly, the increased mobility of the workforce isn't resulting in a stronger call for more rugged devices that can better travel, but consumer-grade devices are apparently proving sufficiently durable for the need. That's leaving former titans in the field like Dell (News - Alert) and Panasonic struggling a bit as tablets make greater gains and Windows finds itself still having issues. Moreover, cuts in defense spending have hit such firms as well, and though it's expected that the category will see recovery in two to three years, that's still some problem coming up for these firms. Further development from firms in the Android market, meanwhile, may also be found here, though the firms likely to benefit the most here are Apple (News - Alert) and Samsung, two of the biggest names in mobile devices.
A mobile workforce has been a major force in the enterprise for some time now, as businesses start to see the cost savings and morale-boosting benefits that come from such a system. But getting a handle on just which devices are best for the field, and just how far to allow the mobile workforce concept to go, can prove a bit more difficult. So while the market is growing, the exact makeup of that market can be quite a bit more malleable than some may have foreseen, so today's leaders, ultimately, may not prove to be tomorrow's.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey