Indian enterprises to drive smartphone adoption

by Sohini Bagchi    Mar 05, 2013

smartphone adoption

There is no doubt that smartphones are transforming the enterprise mobility landscape in India. Experts believe that as businesses increasingly adopt mobile technologies and practices, including the bring your own device (BYOD) concept in their workplaces, smartphones will continue to witness a steady growth in the coming months. According to the latest forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC), for the first time ever, in 2013, global smartphone shipments will overtake feature phones and a significant percentage of this growth will come from the Indian market along with other emerging countries such as China and Brazil.

The research firm estimates that 918.6 million smartphones will be shipped this year, which comprises 50 per cent of the total mobile phone shipments worldwide. By 2017, over 1.5 billion smartphones will be shipped globally. According to the latest projections, China will account for nearly one-third of all smartphones projected to ship this year. Nearly, 301.2 million devices are expected to be shipped to China, followed by the US and UK where the shipments are expected to be 137.5 million and 35.5 million respectively.

India will emerge as a very strategic market for smartphone shipment in the next couple of years, says Melissa Chau, senior research manager for the Asia Pacific region, IDC. While the unit shipment will increase from 27.8 million to 155.6 million, which is a phenomenal increase believes the research firm, market share is also expected to jump from the current 3 per cent to 10 per cent by 2017. The country’s year on year growth in terms of mobile shipment will more than double predicts IDC. “Moreover, enabling 3G stability with the hope of rolling out 4G services by 2015, will also drive growth,” says Chau. The research firm also suggests that most of this growth will inevitably come from the enterprise segment that is increasingly embracing smartphones to bring in more value to their businesses.

Suresh Vedula, Director – Enterprise Sales, Nokia India states that in the enterprise segment, we see a significant upside in the adoption of smartphones in India. The percentage of employees owning and using a smartphone to access business email or apps has even gone up significantly in the last six months, as businesses are noticing increased profitability from the use of these devices.

“Indian enterprises who are competing in a global market are realizing the increased advantage of smartphones. They understand that smartphones not only improve productivity and employee accessibility in the mobile era, but also increase a lot of brand value,” says Daisy Chittilapilly, VP, ITS, Cisco India and SAARC. However, with the increased adoption of smartphones in the enterprise driven by BYOD and IT consumerization, CIOs need to constantly address the several challenges in security and integration with existing systems. Support is also an issue as smartphones running on different devices and operating systems are often a cause of concern for IT departments.

However, Chittilapilly points out that by adopting a strong enterprise mobility strategy, these issues can be addressed. Moreover as enterprises are increasingly adopting smartphones, OEMs and service providers are also geared up to design highly secured and encrypted smartphones to support business applications.

Smartphone adoption will continue to increase despite challenges. In fact, Vedula notes that we are reaching an era when we would start referring to smartphones as just “phones” as smart affordable phones are becoming the de facto in the industry.

As far as other key global markets are concerned, IDC observes that China will inevitably remain the world’s largest smartphone market, as low-cost Android-based handsets will remain at the top of the shipment volumes in the country. At the same time, the research firm sees slower growth in the US market in the coming year as the vast majority of all mobile phone users in the country are now smartphone owners.

Telecom analyst firm Ovum has also said in its recent report that smartphones shipped globally will hit 1.7 billion in 2017 and the emerging markets such as India and China will be the key driver to this growth. Shiv Putcha, Ovum Principal Analyst, Telecoms Emerging Markets says that with the growth of smartphones in the emerging market, the entire ecosystem will gear up to produce more feature rich and affordable and smart devices. The new wave of feature rich affordable smartphones will have a major impact on enterprises in the emerging markets like India.

The research firm also estimated by 2017 smartphone shipments could reach nearly 57 per cent of total devices sold with a chunk of this growth coming from the Indian market.