Microsoft eyes corporate smartphone market

Researchers estimate that over 2.4 billion employees will be using smartphones by the year 2017.

The above-mentioned projection is based on a growth rate of 17% and represents nearly 3 times more smartphones than used by today’s employees.

“‘Billions’ not ‘millions’ is the size of the BYOD smartphone market,” explained ABI Research analyst Dan Shey.

“Mobility suppliers and enterprises need to think in terms of serving all employees with tools, apps, and services via their smartphones instead of only mobile employees or corporate liable employees.”

According to Shey, the most immediate opportunities are in the mobile business customer base which includes employees using their phone for business reasons. 

This group comprises corporate liable, individual liable and prosumer acquired devices – with prosumers weighing in as the largest segment in this group. Unsurprisingly, smartphones among the latter sector is expected to increase to approximately 640 million employees by 2017.

Android – which currently boasts the dominant leadership position among the global workforce – is expected to grow to 56% by 2017. However, Google’s popular mobile operating system may never reach this level, which may be negatively affected by the potential success of the nascent Windows 8 and Blackberry 10 smartphone platforms. 

“The question remains: Will new smartphones from Microsoft and RIM put more power in the hands of the enterprise concerning employee mobile device use, particularly for accessing corporate resources? Such change would directly impact enterprise device market share,” said Shey.

In related mobile news, IHS iSuppli recently confirmed that smartphones are projected to account for the majority of global cellphone shipments in 2013 – some two years earlier than previously predicted.

“This represents a major upgrade for the outlook compared to a year ago, when smartphones weren’t expected to take the lead until 2015. Over the past 12 months, smartphones have fallen in price, and a wider variety of models have become available, spurring sales of both low-end smartphones in regions like Asia-Pacific, as well as midrange to high-end phones in the United States and Europe,” explained IHS iSuppli analyst Wayne Lam.

“The solid expansion in both shipments and market share this year of smartphones will make them the leading type of mobile phone for the first time, and shipment growth in the double digits will continue for the next few years. The rise of smartphones to a plurality share this year means a fall from grace for feature phones, which are a grade above the most basic, low-cost entry-level phones but lack the sophisticated engineering and abundant functionality of smartphones.”

Indeed, feature phones commanded the wireless market as late as last year with 46 percent market share, but their portion will inevitably decrease to 41 percent this year, setting a trend of irreversible decline and progressive weakening in their numbers. And by 2016, feature phones will be confined to a market share of 28 percent.

“A third type of phone, the entry-level and ultra-low-cost handset, will occupy the bottom tier of the market with approximately 14 percent share this year and end up with just 4.2 percent share by 2016,” added Lam.