Smart devices hitting businesses with "unstoppable force"

Sales of smart devices such as smartphones and tablets are poised to pass the one billion mark in 2013, as the consumerisation trend hits businesses with an "unstoppable force," according to Gartner.

The research firm estimated that 821 million smart gadgets (smartphones, tablets) will be purchased worldwide this year, accounting for 70 per cent of total devices sold in 2012. Purchases of tablets by businesses will reach 13 million units this year, a figure that is expected to more than triple by 2016 and reach 53 million units.

"For most businesses, smartphones and tablets will not entirely replace PCs, but the ubiquity of smartphones and the increasing popularity of tablets are changing the way businesses look at their device strategies and the way consumers embrace devices," Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement.

In 2016, 40 per cent of the workforce will be mobile, and two-thirds of mobile workers will own a smartphone.

The firm predicted that Android devices will be most prevalent in enterprises in the future. Android devices will account for 56 per cent of all smartphones purchased by businesses in North America and Europe in 2016, up from 34 per cent this year. Just two years ago, Android had "virtually no penetration" in enterprises.

"The wide range of brands and price points that the Android ecosystem is offering is winning over users," Milanesi said. "While Apple remains the heartbeat by which the market moves, Google has rapidly become its archrival."

Apple iOS devices will also increase their presence in the enterprise, while RIM will continue to decline, Gartner said. When it comes to tablets, Windows 8 will take the No. 3 position in the business market by 2016, behind Apple and Android. By then, Windows 8 will hold a 39 per cent share of tablets and "ultramobiles" in businesses.