2013 Enterprise Mobile Hardware Research Just Released

by David Krebs | 09/25/2013

VDC Research has just published its much anticipated annual worldwide analysis of the market for enterprise mobility hardware, as part of its ongoing coverage of the entire enterprise mobility technology ecosystem. In this report we analyze the use of mobile devices across a variety of device classes and form factors in commercial and government sectors.

As the longest running continuous research program covering the enterprise mobility market, the research identifies a number of trends that are fundamentally reshaping the enterprise mobility landscape, with valuable insights for vendors and enterprise end-users alike.  Among the insights from this year’s research include:

Big challenges for established rugged vendors – Used predominantly by line of business mobile workers in harsh environments supporting business and mission critical applications, the rugged mobile market has contracted over the past 18 months. A combination of factors spanning weak budgets in target end use markets such as military and public safety, massive technology shifts favoring consumer devices and an aging rugged product portfolio all contributed to the current
state of this segment.  Going forward we anticipate the continued pressure of downside risk and strong market headwinds. To counter these we see the need for the rugged vendor community to more effectively address their portfolio gaps, refine and revise their go to market strategies and reinvigorate the value proposition of their solutions beyond its rugged specification.

Microsoft is a problem and BlackBerry has a problem – Microsoft’s multiple mobility missteps have
roiled the market, with many customers sidelined until a clear OS strategy and reliable product emerge.   It will take time for this dust storm to settle.   In the meantime, the window for alternative Android and iOS solutions continues to open wider.  BlackBerry retrenching in the enterprise and government market is likely too little too late as customer’s confidence in their staying power evaporates.

What to make of the tablet – This is a tale of two markets including niche legacy x86 solutions
most widely used in line of business segments in insurance, healthcare, field sales, etc. and the more dynamic media pad segment popularized by the iPad. The list of issues with the legacy solutions is long including their high adoption cost, challenging user experience and overall ergonomics. Conversely, the media pad in the enterprise has been largely a BYOD story. For the tablet to have
legs in the enterprise beyond niche segments its ability as a workforce productivity (and content creation) tool needs to be honed as does the availability of tablet (touch) optimized enterprise applications.

Value pendulum swings towards applications and solutions – While the old adage “you get what you
pay for” clearly still has merit, the massive availability of inexpensive mobile hardware is directly challenging the value proposition of existing mobile vendors. Although there will continue to be a premium for true innovation, much of the new product releases focus more on advancing features.
Moving forward, successful mobile hardware vendors in the enterprise will need to be even closer to enabling and delivering applications and solutions or risk losing much of their existing market leverage.