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The Secret War Between iOS and Android in the Office

More workers are bringing smartphones with them to work. But which platform will win?
December 3, 2012

The battle between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android across the consumer market has been well-documented. Both operating systems are gunning for dominance, and so far, no other platform has come close to matching them.

Earlier this month, research firm IDC revealed that total Android smartphone shipments during the third quarter hit 136 million, accounting for 75 percent market share. Apple’s iOS came in second place with 14.9 percent market share, leaving scraps to RIM’s BlackBerry operating system, with 4.3 percent ownership.

Although IDC’s findings represented shipments across the world, the interpretation of those results focused mainly on the way in which Android and iOS are dominating consumer purchases.

But we already knew that.

However, just recently, IDC released another study that garnered less attention but might actually offer some more insight into the major ways in which iOS and Android are changing the mobile market.

According to IDC, it believes that by the end of the year, iOS will be the top operating system in the enterprise among companies that deploy mobile products to employees. In companies where bring your own device (BYOD) is most prevalent, Android will take the top spot.

That represents a seismic shift in the enterprise, where RIM’s BlackBerry operating system has historically reigned supreme. According to IDC, the total number of BlackBerry devices in the corporate world is still greater than those running iOS or Android, but for the first time, RIM’s enterprise shipments are far behind those from other vendors.

According to Computerworld, which obtained a copy of the IDC study, total employee- and corporate-owned BlackBerry shipments into the enterprise this year will reach 20 million units. Total iPhone shipments will exceed 68 million units. Android shipments will top 102 million units.

There was a time in the enterprise when the very thought of using an operating system other than one from RIM wasn’t even considered. Now, RIM’s BlackBerry devices are starting to cede the corporate world to Apple and Google.

Perhaps, then, that is where the more compelling war is being fought. Everyone expects Apple and Google to dominate the consumer space for years to come, but that a similar war was being waged in the enterprise under their noses might surprise some industry watchers.

So, how did this happen? Blame it on the employees. The enterprise is being inundated with consumerization and BYOD, trends that see employees bringing seemingly consumer-focused products into the office. Meanwhile, an increasing number of IT decision-makers have decided that those trends are acceptable.

With the iPhone and Android-based devices like the Galaxy S III comes more convenience for employees both inside and outside the office. Mobile applications offered through digital marketplaces like Apple’s App Store and Google Play, create a more well-rounded experience for employees. For work, they can find programs that allow them to be more productive, while on weekends, they can use the same phones and marketplaces to get apps that make it easier to live their lives.

And all of that fails to mention that the smartphone are just, well, cooler than those from RIM.