European Small and Medium Businesses to Spend $10.6BN on Tablet Computing by 2016

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Spending on tablet devices and associated service plans by Western Europe's 12 million SMBs (firms with 1 to 999 employees) will exceed $10BN by 2016. Spending on tablet devices during that period is set to grow at 30% CAGR from 2011. Shipments of tablet devices to SMBs will surpass those of other portable PCs during 2016 according to AMI Partners.

Tablet device penetration, running at 12% at the beginning of the year, will grow to 62% by 2016. The manufacturing and professional services sectors are currently leading the charge. Apple dominates the SMB tablet using market in Western Europe with around half of these firms using some version of i-Pad. The closest challengers are Dell and Acer in the 10% range.

"In the early stages Western Europe SMBs have been purchasing tablets predominantly for senior executives," comments Hugh Gibbs, VP Research and Consulting for AMI in EMEA. "We are now seeing usage extended to a wider variety of internal job functions as these SMBs look to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their on-the-road workforces."

"Mobile application usage in its early phases has quite naturally focused on allowing employees to communicate and collaborate while outside the office. What our research is now showing is a marked shift in interest to deploying more sophisticated business and process management applications," Gibbs continued. "The fast-spreading tablet device has been a core contributor to this as it proves a much more effective medium for access to back office company information. IT and field service management, product availability, CRM and staff management have been the leading applications SMBs have been looking to implement."

The "BYOD" (bring-your-own-device) phenomenon along with other "consumerization of business IT" issues associated with the proliferation of mobile devices have presented SMBs (with very limited ICT management resources at their disposal) significant challenges. Signs are that, with the selection of tablet devices, Western European companies are now looking to bring this under better control.

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