Apple iOS leads rivals in business, but not for long

A new report from Good Technology shows Apple dominating its mobile platform competition in business.

New figures from Good Technology show that Apple's iOS is dominating mobile platform adoption for business use -- accounting for as many new activations as Android, Windows Mobile, and WebOS combined. However, as competition continues to get more intense in both smartphones and tablets Apple will have a difficult time retaining such a dominant stake.

The report from Good Technology says, "Devices based on the Apple iOS platform continue to dominate net new activations in Good's enterprise accounts, fueled by the iPhone 4's launch in late June and the steady climb of iPad activations," adding, "As an increasing number of Android devices -- including both smartphone and tablet form factors -- come to market, we expect this growth in Android device activations to continue to increase accordingly."

Broken down on a device basis, the Apple iOS mobile platform actually owns the three of the top five slots for devices adopted by business users. The iPhone 4 is the leading device according to Good Technology, followed by the iPhone 3GS, then the iPad. The Droid X comes in at number four, and the HTC Cedar -- a Windows Mobile smartphone--rounds out the top five.

Apple should be careful not to get too comfortable, though--the battle for the business mobile market is just starting to get interesting. Android has been leading smartphone adoption in recent months, Microsoft is set to launch the Windows Phone 7 platform, and HP recently confirmed that new smartphones built on WebOS will be available in early 2011.

While Android will most likely gain ground in the business arena -- especially as tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab start to become available, Microsoft and HP are uniquely positioned to threaten Apple in this department. The vast majority of businesses already rely on a Microsoft-centric operating system and application culture, and have the Microsoft infrastructure in place to capitalize on Windows Phone 7. HP may be new to the smartphone party, but it has an established presence in business technology that give it a potential advantage over Apple and Android.

Of course, you may have noticed the RIM BlackBerry platform is conspicuously absent from this report. RIM is the leading smartphone platform overall in the United States, and the BlackBerry is iconic as the de facto mobile communications platform for business. However, the report from Good does not include any RIM BlackBerry data. The report explains, "Since RIM devices use only the BlackBerry Enterprise Server for corporate email access, Good does not have insight into BlackBerry handset activation trends and they are not reflected in this report."

That isn't a small omission. It is sort of like saying that the rhinoceros is the largest land animal...as long as you don't count elephants, or that Burger King is the leading fast food chain...as long as we leave McDonald's out of the calculation. Basically, it means that Apple is the biggest fish in a small pond, and is leading the battle for second place. And, given the rising tide of Android, Windows Phone 7, and WebOS devices on the horizon, the small pond is about to get much more crowded.

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Tony Bradley

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