The iPad and iPhone Expand Apple's Enterprise Reach

Android may have passed iOS once and for all in device activations, but Apple is still winning in the enterprise market, according to Microsoft Exchange hosting provider Intermedia. Of all ActiveSync-capable smartphones activated by its 320,000 enterprise customers, 61 percent were iPhones, compared with only 17 percent Android smartphone devices. But the real hero of the enterprise story is the iPad, which is dominant among tablets.

The remaining 22 percent of smartphone activations fell into the "other" category, which includes Windows Phone devices as well as Symbian and Palm smartphones. The iPhone increased its share of all activations in April to 64 percent, and Android also saw an increase, with 33 percent of all new devices brought online during the month. Note that Intermedia's stats do not include BlackBerry devices, since they don't use ActiveSync.

While Apple maintains a strong lead with iPhones, the story of tablets is even more heavily weighted in favor of iOS. Intermedia saw 900 and 1,200 new iPad activations in March and April, compared with a monthly average of around 300 before that. IPads accounted for 99.8 percent of all new tablet activations, with the remaining tiny fraction split between the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Motorola Xoom, and the Huawei S7.

Soaring iPad Deployment

Enterprise adoption of the iPad is impressive by all accounts. During its last quarterly earnings call, Apple said 75 percent of the Fortune 500 are actively using or testing the iPad for deployment. (Eighty-eight percent are doing the same with the iPhone.) Another report from a different enterprise hosting firm back in January found the iPad was quickly increasing its slice of the enterprise iOS adoptions pie. I hear reports daily about iPad deployment programs at businesses large and small. Most recently, I was told that at most major Canadian law firms (some of which are arms of much larger international organizations), the iPad has become an omnipresent sight, especially among senior partners.

Apple's success with enterprise sales can be attributed to its ability to bring the iPad to market as a finished product with a smooth and dependable user experience, something Google has thus far been unable to do with its Android operating system. Enterprise IT is far less likely than consumers to take risks on an unproven platform, and while Android is a proven hit with consumers, it still hasn't shown itself to be on a par with iOS in OS stability, regardless of whether you're looking only at tablets, or at smartphones as well.

Reports also rightly point out that Google Android is much less secure than iOS, which is bound to scare off IT departments already reluctantly dealing with the risks involved with allowing consumer devices in the enterprise. Finally, Android OS fragmentation is a considerable issue when it comes to being able to provide comprehensive IT support.

Android may be doing a good job of cornering the consumer market, but all indications are that Apple is the one making real inroads among enterprise customers. Thanks to the iPad, the aggressive growth position iOS occupies in the business world may become a dominant one before too long, especially if we continue to see big activation numbers such as those reported by Intermedia during March and April.

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