iOS 7 'Bumpy Landing' Benefits Microsoft: ABI Research

Apple's revamped iOS 7 gets a lukewarm reception in corporate IT circles, leaving an opening for Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.

Despite the many mobile device management (MDM) capabilities that Apple baked into iOS 7, businesses aren't biting, according to ABI Research.

The mobile operating system (OS), which ships with the latest batch of iPad Airs and iPhones, falls short in the MDM department, says ABI Research Senior analyst Jason McNicol. In a bid to add a business-friendly spin to iOS 7, Apple included sought-after features like enterprise single sign on, per-app VPN, improved third-party MDM integration and expanded set of remote device management options.

"There was a lot of excitement with the release of iOS 7, especially in the enterprise where Apple included features enterprises were longing for," said McNicol in a statement. It wasn't enough.

While new to Apple's mobile OS, some of those capabilities "were not terribly innovative when compared to the services offered by the EMM/MDM market, while other enhancements have relatively limited functionality," said McNicol. "Despite the positive market buzz, iOS7 enterprise features are unlikely to increase its enterprise presence."

Apple's loss is one longtime rival's gain. "Plenty of market opportunity remains, especially for a company like Microsoft," added McNicol. The research firm forecasts that Microsoft will capture six percent of the smartphone subscriber market by 2018. Apple, meanwhile, will cling to 18 percent of the market "for the foreseeable future."

Commenting on Apple's lead over Microsoft, Dan Shey, practice director for ABI research, said that "Microsoft is learning from Apple," in company remarks. If Microsoft stays focused on keeping enterprise customers happy, ABI expects the software giant "to gain market share among mobile business customers," he said.

Regional market dynamics also come into play. Consumers are flocking to Windows Phone in Europe, noted ABI. "As demonstrated by the Apple and Android platforms, a growing base of consumers is a key driver for expansion into the enterprise," said McNicol.

The latest data from Gartner indicates Google's Android mobile OS currently dominates the smartphone market (81.9 percent 3Q13) and Apple iOS is a distant, though an immensely profitable, second (12.1 percent 3Q13). Microsoft holds just 3.6 percent of the market on sales of 8.9 million Windows Phones, but the company is gaining fast. Gartner principal research analyst Anshul Gupta declared in a statement that "the winner of this quarter is Microsoft, which grew 123 percent."

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Tags: Android, Apple, smartphone, Windows Phone, iOS 7, Mobile Device Vendors

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