Windows tablets for business hit 10% share in second quarter

U.S. business users are entrenched in BYOD tablets and smartphones, Strategy Analytics says

microsoft surface pro 4 display detail
Peter Ruecktenwald

Microsoft has recently shown improvement in Windows smartphones and tablets shipments for use in businesses.

Microsoft and its Windows devices globally accounted for 6% of business smartphones and 10% of tablets in the second quarter of 2015, breaking the double-digit mark for business tablets for the first time, according to Strategy Analytics. Overall, the market research firm said business smartphone shipments were 89.3 million in the second quarter, while shipments of business tablets were 19.6 million.

All Windows tablets for business grew by 42% from the first to second quarter of 2015, reaching nearly 2 million globally, largely due to the impact of Windows Surface Pro 3, said Phil Hochmuth, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.

The second quarter didn’t include Microsoft’s announcements last week of a Surface Pro 4 tablet or the new Surface Book laptop and three new Lumia smartphones.

Hochmuth predicted an increase in interest in Windows 10 tablets as a replacement for laptops, particularly for business travelers looking for a lighter device to carry. Microsoft’s focus on Continuum apps that run across platforms and the Pro 4’s ability to work with mobile device management software will attract some buyers. Strategy Analytics is set to release a forecast in less than a month that takes into account the new Windows 10 devices.

Microsoft’s overall share for both business and consumer Windows smartphone devices is smaller than for tablets, hovering just above 3%, according to Gartner, IDC and other analysts.

Lumia and Windows smartphones have struggled but Windows tablets have been “eeking up” in share for the last year, Hochmuth said. Windows tablets for both consumer and business combined reached a 9% share in the second quarter, Strategy Analytics said in July. That was about 4.5 million Windows tablets out of a total of 50.8 million tablets that shipped.

The smartphone and tablet markets globally for business were still dominated by Android devices in the second quarter, at 65% and 52% respectively, Strategy Analytics stated. Apple iOS devices made up 28% of business smartphones and 38% of business tablets in the quarter.

Globally, about two-thirds of all business smartphones and tablets are bring-your-own devices (BYOD), as compared to one-third that are “corporate-liable,” meaning a business pays for and maintains them. Hochmuth predicted a slight shift toward more corporate-liable tablets that replace laptops for certain work groups or for functions such as kiosks or point-of-sale devices.

In North America, nearly 75% of business smartphones are BYOD, while about 73% of business tablets are BYOD, Hochmuth said. The biggest contrast is in Western Europe, where BYOD for smartphones is about 38%, given stricter regulatory laws around data privacy and because European businesses like to put workers on corporate plans due to high roaming charges for travel throughout the continent.

Hochmuth said it is hard to imagine that the BYOD trend will ever drop below 50% in the U.S. because the practice is so entrenched. “You can’t get the cat back in the bag,” he said.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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