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Microsoft to Make Leaps in the Mobile Enterprise

By Tom Kaneshige, CIO
March 29, 2013 07:22 PM ET

CIO - Shocking developments in the mobile enterprise race show the market's incredible volatility, according to a new survey by Aberdeen Group. The survey looked at mobile app deployment plans by platform--Apple iOS, Android, Windows 8/Windows Phone and BlackBerry--covering both tablets and phones.

"The plans for mobile app deployment in 2013 were a big surprise," says Aberdeen research director Andrew Borg. Aberdeen plans to release its official findings next week, but gave CIO.com a sneak peek.

The data shows Microsoft Windows Phone 8 and Surface tablets poised to make a profound leap, as CIOs hope to retake control of the mobile enterprise. Apple iPhones and iPads may be reaching a point of saturation. Google phones and tablets are holding steady, but will users let loose the reins?

[ GARTNER: Top 10 strategic technology trends for 2013 ]

As for BlackBerry, the future looks bleak.

Aberdeen surveyed 348 organizations about their mobile strategy in November and December last year. The chart above shows the percentage of respondents currently deploying apps on a given mobile platform, as well as the percentage of respondents planning to build apps on the platform for the first time in 2013.

Here's a breakdown of what's behind the numbers.

Microsoft, Don't Call It a Comeback

Microsoft was the big winner with 35 percent of respondents planning to develop apps on the Surface tablet over the next 12 months, in addition to 8 percent currently deployed. Windows Phone fared well, too, with 25 percent planning to develop apps on Windows Phone, in addition to 26 percent already deployed.

"The data shows that IT is holding out hope that Microsoft's mobile strategy will be well-integrated with their overall data center and cloud strategy," Borg says. "You might say IT has been waiting for Microsoft to make its enterprise mobile play."

Microsoft, though, might have already disappointed respondents. The Aberdeen survey was conducted late last year before all the criticism of Surface RT, well, surfaced and before the Surface Pro was even released. At the time, there was hope that Microsoft would deliver a completely integrated strategy.

But the Windows 8 user interface consistency from smartphone to tablet to desktop did not extend to the back end. In other words, the primary criticism of Surface RT is that the apps are not compatible with the rest of Windows 8. Surface RT is not in the same app ecosystem as Windows 8.

"IT and lines of business were looking for a point of consolidation and integration with backend services," Borg says. "This lack of integration from IT's perspective is a disappointment."

Microsoft blew the branding and messaging opportunity, Borg explains. The average consumer didn't grasp the difference between Surface RT and Surface Pro. Many simply and wrongly expected Surface RT to be a Windows laptop replacement.

It's too bad, because Surface RT is a pretty slick device with a nice industrial design and user interface, Borg says. Among all tablets, Surface RT boasts the best integration with Office. It shouldn't matter that it's not tied to Windows 8 applications on the desktop. Apple iOS apps aren't compatible with OS X, nor are Android apps with Chrome OS.

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