Windows Phone's presence in the enterprise: Dead in the water, says a new report

As bad as Windows Phone's market share is among consumers, it's even worse in what you would expect to be Microsoft's strength -- the enterprise. A new report finds that in the fourth quarter of 2012, only 0.5% of all mobile devices activated in enterprises were Windows Phones. And because of the study's methodology, that might even be an overstatement of its share.

The discouraging news for Windows Phone comes from Good Technology, which provides mobile device services to corporations. Its Q4 2012 Device Activation Report found that Windows Phone devices accounted for a mere 0.5 percent of overall mobile device activations in the fourth quarter, well behind iOS, which accounted for 77 percent of all activations, and Android, which accounted for less than 23 percent of all device activations. The figures include activations of tablets as well as smartphones. Windows RT, Windows 8 tablets, and other Windows 8 tablets had too low a presence to even measure.

You may have noticed that Blackberry devices aren't listed. That's because Blackberry devices use only Blackberry Enterprise Server for their email access, says Good Technology, and so Good Technology has no way to track Blackberry activations. Clearly, quite a few Blackberry devices were activated in enterprises during the quarter. That means that the iOS, Android, and Windows Phone numbers are all overstated, which means that Windows Phone activations during the quarter were south of 0.5 percent.

iPhones and iPads lead the list of the most popular devices activated during the quarter. In fact, 8 of the top ten devices activated were either iPhones or iPads. The Samsung Galaxy S III, at number 6 and the Droid Razr at number 10, were the only non-iOS devices to make the top ten list. (The Samsung Galaxy S II came in at number 11.) All run Android. Compared to the quarter a year ago, Android activations dropped 6.3 percent. (You can get the full report here in PDF form, or you can read it here using Roambi Flow.)

The report comes just as there have been some glimmers of hope for Windows Phone. Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, for example, reports that the Windows Phone market share in the U.K. grew 240% from a year ago. In the three months leading up to January 2013, Windows Phone had more than 6% market share, which was up from 2.4% a year previous. A good amount of that growth came from Android users switching to Windows Phone devices. Nokia has also announced it's going to release lower-cost Windows Phone devices, which could help boost market share as well. So targeting Android users with low-cost Windows Phone devices could well be a winning strategy.

Other reports have also found that Windows Phone market share is growing. A new IDC report says that Windows Phone/Windows Mobile had a 2.6% worldwide market share in the fourth quarter of 2012, which was up from 1.5% the previous year. The numbers are similar to a Gartner report, which said Windows Phone sales leaped 124% in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the previous year, leading to a 3% market share.

That Windows Phone is doing so badly in enterprises is a clear setback for Microsoft. It's possible that enterprises lag the consumer market, and there will be increased activations in the coming year. But even that won't help much, because Microsoft must have been hoping that enterprise use of Windows Phone devices would spur consumers to use them. The Good Technology report shows that's not happening. So Microsoft now needs consumers to drive enterprise growth, an instance of the tail wagging the dog, something that just doesn't happen in real life.

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