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Although 2011 was a big year for tablets with notable large deployments (e.g., American Airlines, SAP, and the Department of Veterans Affairs), the perception of tablets as a complementary/companion device remains. The aforementioned deployments are early evidence of potential this device class may offer to transform today’s enterprise. The extended battery life, portability, and large screen size of tablets enable enhanced computing capacity and usability over the smartphone, while preserving the portability, connectivity, and long battery life appreciated by many smartphone users. While tablet use and adoption has currently centered on the consumer market, we believe that the growing ecosystem of enterprise-class applications will drive tablets into the enterprise in 2012. We project that the global market for tablets will exceed 100M units by 2014 – while this pales in comparison to laptop penetration in the enterprise, it is significant growth.
Alongside the anticipated advantages these devices will enable for enterprise customers (i.e. in sales, business intelligence, or communication), companies such as IBM have begun to recognize the generous profit potential for companies best able to access this growing software market. Earlier this month, IBM expanded its suite of mobile offerings with the announcement of seven new mobile applications targeted at enterprise users. These social networking apps cater to users of iPad and Android devices, offering software to facilitate capabilities ranging from instant messaging and reduced calling costs to management and attendance of online meetings. Salesforce.com’s anticipated Touch.salesforce.com (a tablet-optimized HTML5 mobile app) will also be impactful, as it will seamlessly enable users to access their Salesforce applications across tablet and smartphone platforms.
We expect that the market for tablet-optimized enterprise applications will experience substantial growth in 2012, led primarily by large ISVs and by innovative startups. As enterprises and IT organizations become more comfortable with mobile devices and tools, we expect to see tablets expand across the enterprise. This growth will spur further innovation and technological advances in software applications, driving new uses for this device in the enterprise.