The Android operating system is continuing to take market share from Apple in the enterprise market for tablet computing, due in part due to a preference from IT professionals for openness and flexibility. That’s according to a recent IDG Connect research effort and white paper: “The Global Shift to Android: Business & IT Professionals.
The survey at the core of the project, involving more than 3,000 business and IT professionals across five continents, explores the rapid rise of tablets in the workplace, how tablet buyers’ priorities change once they’ve owned a tablet for a while, and a range of related, predictive topics.
Here’s a quick overview of the key findings:
Business professionals continue to embrace tablets
Tablets have already gone mainstream, according to reports from Pew Research, but an important saturation point is occurring now. More than 71 percent of those surveyed own a tablet, with business professionals holding a slight edge over IT types. Yes, this is a higher ownership rate than the general population, but IDG notes that these are influencers, and the bulk of middle-class consumers will likely follow. Not surprisingly, ownership is highest among business directors and lower among junior staff. Of the respondents who don’t own a tablet today, nearly eight in 10 say they intend to buy one in the next 12 months, the IDG results show.
IT professionals show Android preference
Because the survey involved both tablet owners and owners-to-be, pattern departures across the two groups (and in the subgroups represented by different tablet platforms) are telling. On the business side, non-owners planning to buy an Android tablet slightly outnumber those eyeing the iOS platform. Not surprisingly, the gap is larger among IT professionals planning to buy, who overwhelmingly prefer Android. This openness to non-iOS tablets bodes well not just for Android, but for rapidly approaching Windows 8-based tablets, too.
Shoppers for tablets said they weigh functionality, app availability, looks and price; the relative importance of these factors differs by chosen platform. Regardless, a trend toward commoditization, with form and feature differences increasingly blurred, again suggests a more wide-open, multi-platform marketplace looking forward, according to IDC.
Owners vs. seekers: shifts in tablet OS preferences
Aspiring tablet purchasers will do well to study how tablet owner priorities appear to change after purchase and subsequent use. On both iOS and Android platforms, those planning to buy a tablet placed more importance on high quality rendering of multimedia (that is, video and music playback) than did those who already own a tablet. On the Android side, owners placed more importance on app availability than do those planning to buy. Want to change your mind about tablets? Buy one and use it, the survey seems to say.
Usage patterns: more work-focused than you might think
People tend to use their tablets for work-related tasks, and in the workplace, with surprising and increasing frequency. While 98 percent of those surveyed use their devices for personal purposes at least weekly, the majority (65 percent of iPad owners and 58 percent of Android owners) also use them for work. IDG theorizes that at least part of this story is the ease of transitioning between the two types of tasks—personal and work. Regardless, the trend underscores the need for enterprise IT leaders to have some kind of strategy to handle employees who want to bring their personal tablet to work, as we explored earlier in a post on BYOD risk management.
Bottom line: Android and Windows 8
In the white paper, IDG suggests 2012 made Android a significant player in the tablet space, and that thanks to the promise of Windows 8, 2013 may well be the year “in which Windows joins the race.” That’s one of the reasons Lenovo will be introducing a Windows 8 tablet later this year. Regardless of specific market rankings, the competition promises to be good for consumers and businesses.