The latest Forrester Research data confirms that Apple [AAPL] has become a darling for enterprise users, with the drive to its solutions trickling down from the top of the company, where most of its existing enterprise users already sit.
As they improve, mobile devices are becoming more useful. Take spreadsheets for example, any hard-working CFO can now easily examine and edit information held within a spreadsheet on their iPad. In conjunction with VPN and cloud-based services, you even get to collaborate on project files using your mobile device.
That's a big change: Think about it: In part, the evolution of the PC was driven by the appearance of applications such as VisiCalc on personal computers. With spreadsheets being among the most widely used business applications, we've been freed from our reliance on desktop PCs. This also means we can file our figures -- stock control and the like -- wherever we assess them, and don't need proprietary systems to do so.
Apple's Making Hay
Pending the release later this year of Windows 8, Apple is establishing a firm foothold among enterprise users (as I've discussed here). To understand the extent of its grip, here's some stats from Forrester's survey of c.10,000 information workers in 17 countries:
One-fifth of information workers use one or more Apple devices for work, 11% use iPhones, 9% use iPads and 8% use Macs.
41% of workers at director level or above use Apple devices for work.
43% of workers earning over $150,000/year use Apple machines.
46% of the enterprise companies surveyed issued Macs to employees.
Forrester takes these stats as evidence that "Windows dominance is at an end," adding: "In a fragmented market for mobile devices, customers and partners will look to anoint a solid number two alternative for a full range of personal technology -- and they'll choose Apple because of its strength with individuals across smartphones, tablets, and Macs."
It goes on: CFOs may also have to consider another thing that CIOs told Forrester, that they "feel protected by Apple's brand and app store strategy in a way they don't with Android products."
What's to become of Microsoft? The analysts expect its enterprise market share to shrink to below 50 percent, but predict Office sales will remain strong, because many of its component applications also work on non-Windows devices.
Microsoft has already hinted at plans to bring Office apps to iOS. Most businesses already have decades of archived Office format documents in their archives.
Enterprise users considering the Android option remain reticent. Why? Because they're concerned for the security of that clearly consumer-focused system. Take a look at the latest Symantec Android malware warning for a sense of what's to come.
Is Android Ready for the Enterprise?
To be fair, Google does have some play. In a second report, Forrester tells us that Android has 27 percent, RIM 26 percent and iOS 24 percent of the market, saying:
"As of the fall of 2011, the top three smartphone OSes have essentially the same share of the installed base of smartphones used for work by information workers across the globe (full-time workers in companies with 20 or employees who use a PC, tablet, or smartphone for work one hour or more per day)."
Enterprise users shifting to Google's platform face problems of fragmentation and device management, among others.
"This indicates that Android's smaller and shrinking share among corporate users isn't likely to reverse its course any time soon. Instead, it will continue to meet new competition in the corporate arena from Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 smartphones and its Windows 8 tablets later this year or in early 2013," writes AppleInsider.
This suggests that the future enterprise market will be defined by two major players: Apple and Microsoft, with supporting parts played by RIM's BlackBerry and Google's Android.