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iPhone to Become Top Enterprise Smartphone, Merchants Should Prepare Accordingly

According to a recent forecast from research firm IDC, iPhones will be the top company purchased smartphone through 2016 as enterprises are ordering iPhones in masses. Meanwhile the UK has certified the iOS 6 iPhones and iPads as safe for government use and for sharing restricted information. These milestones serve as indicators that e- and m-Commerce merchants should plan for increased use and tighter fraud protection with transactions coming from these devices.

The recent IDC forecast considers consumer and business smartphones, classifying the latter into two subgroups: corporate liable, or purchased by the business, and employee liable, purchased by the employee (BYOD). While BlackBerry has dominated the enterprise smartphone market for several years and was the leading smartphone among corporate liable shipments in 2011 with 22.4 million, they are losing ground to Apple and Android. IDC predicts that Apple will ship 31.1 million corporate liable and 37.1 million employee liable smartphones to companies in 2012. IDC also forecasts that the iPhone will exceed 68 million shipments in 2016 and continue to top the corporate liable list. By comparison Android smartphones were expected to have higher employee liable smartphone shipments at 87.7 million, but considerably lower corporate liable smartphone shipments at 15.1 million for 2012.

iPhones are not only growing in market share for business and enterprise use, but also in mind share. In early November the UK government’s IT security branch, Communications Electronic Security Group (CESG), published guidelines on how public sector agencies should use iPhones and iPads running the latest operating system, iOS 6, for communicating confidential information. The CESG gave iOS 6 iPhones and iPads clearance to carry up to Impact Level 3 data, the scale goes from zero to six. Other nations and governments may follow suit, and if these devices are considered secure enough for restricted government data, then many businesses will likely find them suitable for their needs as well.

While this is great news for Apple it also has implications for online and multi-channel merchants. Most major online retailers have dedicated mobile sites and apps, but the majority of transactions today come from computers rather than mobile devices. This IDC forecast can provide merchants perspective on where to focus their efforts looking into 2013 and beyond. Over the past couple years the trend has been an increase in mobile traffic and purchases, and momentum is still gaining. But merchants should put more emphasis on traffic and purchases coming from these devices, both in terms of optimizing user experiences and increasing fraud protection, as iPhones are greatly increasing their presence with corporate and employee use, and many business users will surf the web and make purchases from these devices as well. The mobile commerce channel is still relatively small, and the fraud protection merchants have in place may support the volume and fraud attempts being seen in this channel today, but merchants should continue to focus efforts on this growing channel, with emphasis on iOS devices, as trends and forecasts are pointing toward large growth in these devices.

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