Smartphones Need to Address the Business App Gap
(By Chris Marsh, Senior Analyst at Yankee Group
Employee-purchased smartphones are invading the workplace. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of employees plan to purchase a smartphone on their own for work purposes in the next 12 months, according to Yankee Group’s 2011 US Enterprise Mobility: Employee Survey, Wave 2. The survey also finds 60 percent of smartphones in the enterprise are being selected and purchased by employees rather than corporate IT buyers—and that percentage is growing.
Unfortunately, end-users who purchase smartphones for work purposes tend to find them wanting when it comes to providing true business productivity. As a result, many employees download mobile apps from consumer storefronts in an effort to increase their device’s work productivity. If device manufacturers and carriers want to entice employees to their wares, they must begin addressing this “business app gap.” Specifically, they need to rethink their device’s out-of-the-box business appeal and balance that with providing true business/productivity applications employees can download from their specific app stores.
When it comes to the devices employees choose to use for work, our employee survey finds Apple’s iPhone, Research In Motion’s (RIM’s) BlackBerry and Google’s Android are running neck and neck: 40-43 percent of employees are considering purchasing each brand. Each smartphone’s reputation attracts different types of business-minded buyers:
Android attracts younger employees. Most Android buyers are employees aged 18 to 34. They are less likely to have formal work leadership roles and less likely to have incomes over U.S.$50,000 than are buyers of BlackBerrys and Apple iPhones.
Apple also attracts younger employees. Like Android buyers, most iPhone buyers fall into the 18-34 age range, but iPhone buyers are more likely to have a leadership role at work.
BlackBerry attracts older employees. The BlackBerry employee buyer base skews toward formal leadership roles and higher incomes.
Top Types of Business Apps by Consumer App Store
Each of the three major smartphone OSs attracts certain types of developers and seeks to fulfill certain employee needs. A study of the most popular business apps downloaded from each platform’s online store reveals:
RIM users focus on productivity. RIM’s BlackBerry has long established an out-of-the-box experience that thoroughly addresses productivity and messaging-oriented collaboration. Apps in its BlackBerry App World tend to be mobile process-oriented and task-oriented.
Android users focus on information. Android smartphones have long established an out-of-the-box experience that involves collaboration via social media as well as entertainment and information. Android Market tends to have more free business-oriented apps, and while the most popular downloads are in the mobile process-oriented and task-oriented categories, information-oriented apps also rise to the top.
Apple users are heavily word- and task-oriented. Apple has also long established an out-of-the-box experience that involves collaboration via social media as well as entertainment and information. Apple’s App Store, therefore, tends to offer more word processing-oriented and task-oriented business apps.
Yankee Group surveys also find employees who buy Apple iPhones and use them for work purposes are more likely to consider their personal tools and technologies as productivity-enhancing. In fact, 51 percent believe their personal technologies are more advanced than their workplace technologies. Employees who buy Android smartphones and use them for work purposes are least likely to consider their personal apps and technologies as productivity-enhancing.