by Robert Jaques

Tablet computers drive renewed mobile computing focus

Jun 07, 20114 mins
MobileSmall and Medium Business

The arrival of next-generation mobile devices including Apple’s iPad has led to a new focus on mobile computing in the enterprise, and an increasingly pitched battle between the manufacturers of competing mobile devices and technologies.

Karine Paoli, associate vice president, International Data Corporation (IDC) EMEA Client Computing, believes tablets have marked an important milestone. “While tablet form factors have been on the market for some time, targeted at business users or niche segments, the emergence of new ‘media tablets’ initiated by Apple and the stellar success of the iPad introduced a new product category and new usage scenarios which will drive mobile device adoption and multi-equipment further and represents a major market expansion opportunity,” she said.

IDC forecasts the EMEA media tablet market to more than triple in 2011 to reach 22 million units. Eszter Morvay, research manager in IDC’s EMEA Personal Computing group, said: “A plethora of new products is expected to hit the market in the coming months and will drive further buoyancy around the media tablet category and create an additional demand vacuum in the second half of 2011 for the back-to-school and next Christmas seasons.”

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According to Simon Gale, chief technology officer for End User Services, Global Technology Services, IBM UK and Ireland, the rise of the smartphone and latterly the tablet looks set to continue over the next three or four years at least. “If an organisation takes steps to ‘manage’ the devices through enforcement of enterprise standard password policies, remote lock/wipe, data encryption and access to corporate network through firewalls then the platform can represent a cost effective solution for highly mobile staff, especially in the managerial and sales areas,” he said.

Peter Airs, EMEA product marketing manager at NETGEAR, added: “Businesses are adopting these new products as technology becomes more and more prolific in our everyday lives. Additionally, business decision makers are facing increasing pressure from their employees to ensure the technology in the workplace keeps pace with their expectations of technology at home.”

In quantitative terms total worldwide mobile communication device sales to end users is estimated by Gartner to have totalled 427.8 million units in the first quarter of 2011. The analyst firm estimates that Nokia sold 107.6 million mobile devices in the first quarter of 2011, representing a decline of 5.5 per cent year-on-year, and taking its share to its lowest since 1997. Nokia will, the analyst group predicts, aggressively lower average selling prices in order to maintain shipments of Symbian devices while waiting for the first Windows Phone 7 devices – produced with new partner Microsoft – to reach the market.

However, Nokia is facing fast growing challenges from Android competitors. According to the latest IDC European Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, during the first quarter of 2011, smartphone shipments increased 76 per cent year-on-year to 21.2 million units. Android was the smartphones operating system leader with 35.7 per cent market share. Secondly comes Apple’s iOS with 20.8 per cent market share due the popularity of the iPhone. Symbian slipped to third place with 20.5 per cent market share.

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“Samsung and Apple achieved outstanding milestones this quarter in the region. Samsung became the biggest mobile phone vendor in Western Europe and Apple the biggest smartphone vendor. These results show how volatile this market is and how important it is not to underestimate the trends. Companies like Nokia (and Ericsson in the past) may have strong brands and big market shares as Nokia always had, but can be overtaken by their competitors on a blink of an eye,” said Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research manager, IDC.

“Nokia is one of the most recognised and appreciated brands in Europe, but Samsung was the one understanding the trends first and moving faster. Samsung understood early the trend on touchscreen devices and became the market leader on feature-phones by providing a full range of devices at very competitive prices,” Jeronimo added.