European businesses keen to deploy tablets and the adoption to gain momentum in 2012 - according to an IDC Enterprise Tablet Study

(PresseBox) (London, ) According to International Data Corporation (IDC), tablet shipments in EMEA reached more than 12 million units in the first three quarters of 2011 and is slated to cross 20 million units by the end of the year. Although business purchases represent less than 10% of the entire tablet market, the opportunity for growth and interest from businesses is huge following the success of the iPad. Functionalities such as a responsive touch screen user-interface, portability/design, and a plethora of business application solutions that address specific vertical business needs, are all factors that motivate the adoption and demonstrate the value in businesses.

So far Apple has been quite successful with the iPad and several iPads have already made their way into the enterprise space. Although Apple seems to attract more interest from businesses, is the iPad suited for all use-cases? Further, with vendors such as HP pulling out of the market, Google's Android lacking a convincing roadmap, Dell and RIM launching incomplete products and plagued with frequent blackouts, the question is do vendors have a clear business strategy, robust products and solutions, competitive pricing, and a focused vision to target and address commercial needs?

IDC recently conducted a study titled "Tablets in the Enterprise" across business in Western Europe that looked at understanding the perceptions of adoption, intention to purchase, applications for specific business needs, preference for features, and acquisition strategies for tablets.

A few key takeaways from this study include:

Adoption trend: More than 48% of businesses have either already evaluated and are keen to introduce tablets or purchased a few, and many verticals pointed to interest in purchasing tablets by the first and second half of 2012. With evident uptake among the IT services, professional services industry, other sectors such as transport and storage, utilities and distribution are showing strong interest.

Perception of adoption: More than 22% of businesses think that the present generation of tablets defined by Apple iPad, are more suitable to their needs (for example, meter reading, inventory management) rather than their present equipment, such as traditional tablet devices or vertical application devices.

Applications/usage of tablets in business: Applications and usage of Tablets in businesses vary depending on the industry they function in. General business uses for tablet devices are as presentation tools during customer meetings and to remotely check emails and calendars. But tablets are perceived as perfectly well suited for several key vertical applications such as:

- Equipment maintenance, meter-reading (water, gas, electricity), proof-of-service in the field service category.

- Asset and inventory management, telematics and direct store delivery in the storage and logistics, travel, and distribution verticals.

Preference - OS/price/features: While iOS and Android receive a strong response rate, Windows is clearly awaited, with more than 30% of respondents that would choose to have a Windows OS-based tablet device when probed about their OS of choice. As regards to pricing, while businesses will obviously be price-sensitive, they also need the right solution and declare that they would accept paying up to 50% above the standard price to have the right features mounted on the devices. Features again vary depending on the business use-case; whether for the choice of screen size for instance, or ruggedized features:

- Transport and storage and distribution sectors prefer to have barcode scanners, SD card readers, and cameras.

- Finance sectors prefer features such as credit card readers, signature capture, and HDD with encryption.

Deployment and acquisition strategy: Most businesses favor partnering directly with OEM-manufacturers and traditional resellers with few verticals interested in partnering with ISVs. Virtualization and cloud-based technologies are the top preferred technologies considered to support tablet devices.

Tablets have undoubtedly become a credible client device option, and in some cases better fulfilling needs which are incorrectly or only partially fulfilled by other devices or platforms. While this study confirms the high interest and concrete evaluation phase already started by many enterprises and medium-sized businesses across Europe, a lot of questions clearly remain, including around OS, product choice, deployment technologies. Businesses will of course be extremely vigilant in their choice, especially at a time when economic instability forces budgets to be spent very cautiously, but at the same time, businesses need to ensure they opt for the right solution that will make them more competitive and flexible to respond to more difficult market conditions.

Some companies are in a wait-and-see mode, but several others are keen to go ahead, already deploying iPads, or evaluating Android or Windows 7 tablets. 2012 will undoubtedly see growing competitive offering as some vendors are now placing a stronger focus on the commercial market, but in the meantime, could well leave Apple to continue to gain share in the business space. With more than 20 million units forecast by 2015, tablets could represent close to one in four client computing devices in the commercial market.

The study provides essential guidance for OEMs, software providers, and other vendors looking to better recognize the current interest among businesses that can help define new products and business strategy to successfully play in this market. To deliver a thorough perspective of the market, these survey results are coupled with IDC's tablet tracker data to develop a clear view of the enterprise market.

For more information on IDC’s European Tablet Study or IDC personal computing research/consulting services, please contact Associate Vice President Karine Paoli on kpaoli@idc.com or +44 77755 10 912, or Senior Consultant Varun Srikumar on vsrikumar@idc.com or +44 78246 41 908. Alternatively, contact your local IDC office or visit www.idc.com.

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