Apple’s iPad continues to dominate the tablet market, and appears to be making major inroads into the workplace. The number crunchers at IDC estimate that the 17 million iPads shipped last quarter gave Apple a 68% market share, meaning that 25 million tablets were shipped overall. That’s an annualized rate of 100 million tablets a year, but of course the number is going up each quarter.
Forrester Research projects that annual global tablet shipments will hit 375 million by 2016. Forrester says that by then, one third of all tablet sales will be made directly to enterprise customers. When the firm surveyed businesses about tablet use last year, 44% of executives and 30% of salespeople said they were using them; those numbers are probably higher today. And despite its higher cost compared to competitors, the iPad appeared to be the tablet of choice for corporations, with 27% of businesses surveyed supporting the device for at least some of their workers.
Samsung, of course, is Apple’s fiercest competitor in the mobile device market, having already surpassed the Cupertino company in smartphone sales. IDC estimates that Samsung still has just 9.6% of the tablet market, and the researchers put Amazon’s share at 5%. Amazon’s Kindle products are sold almost exclusively to consumers, and so are not likely to benefit from increasing corporate purchases of tablets.
For mobile service providers, the tablet explosion was initially seen as a promising new revenue stream, but tablet users have shown a clear preference for Wi-Fi connections. Some operators are responding by offering smartphones with embedded software that enables the phone to function as a mobile hotspot. T-Mobile USA has been a leader in this area with devices like the HTC One S. The carrier has plans to start shipping smartphones with embedded software made by Smith Micro Software (SMSI) to facilitate connection of Wi-Fi devices its 3G and 4G networks.
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