Do info workers prefer iPads or Windows 8 tablets? Let's ask them! And other interesting questions...

For our Forrsights Workforce survey, Forrester annually surveys information workers.* I’m leading final preparation of our Forrsights Workforce survey focused on end user hardware and aimed at five major markets – the US, Canada, the UK, France, and Germany. By end user hardware, we primarily mean PC/Macs, tablets, and smartphones, but we may also focus a bit on peripherals. And we hope to mirror some of the questions from the Forrsights IT Hardware survey, which we develop after this one, so that we can compare results from this information worker survey to what IT buyers report in their survey. Analyst Heidi Shey is working on the other half of the survey, which will focus on security issues.

Below are the hypotheses and topics we plan to explore in the survey. Please give them a quick read, then post or email feedback by Friday, April 12 (Tuesday, April 16 at the very latest). If you are a Forrester client and would like to see a survey draft, please email your account rep and me.

These are statements of ideas we are planning to test in the survey questions, which are designed to confirm or disprove the idea. But we probably can’t fit all of these, so please help us prioritize – especially if you are a Forrsights Workforce client!

Info workers:

Multi-device use

  • Have multiple devices used for work, including many that are personally chosen and/or owned; they spend significant money on devices used regularly for work; and they expect to continue doing so.
  • Often blend work and personal tasks on the same device, despite employer policies to the contrary.
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Ideas On How Mobile + PC Collaboration Tech Will Evolve - Will We See Any Advance This Week?

I’m attending Apple’s special event tomorrow and Microsoft’s Windows launch on Thursday in NYC, though I won’t be at the Google and Microsoft events early next week. I’m tuned in for hints of where personal computing technology is going — how will mobile and PC influence one another?

Back in April, I wrote about the idea of “frames,” a new form of peripheral displays or all-in-one PCs that work tightly with your mobile device or laptop. When you arrive at a desk and sit down to work, these frames would automatically display your work from the mobile or laptop, so you can continue working seamlessly on a large screen. And not just a large screen, one that has sensors, extra computing power, and a wireless connection.

So I’ll be watching for things like support in Apple’s Macs for receiving AirPlay from mobile devices or Microsoft announcing how SmartGlass might make it possible for your tablet and desktop PCs to work together better.

What kinds of cooperation features are you envisioning that make mobile and PC technologies work together better?

The Mobile Tsunami Reframes Windows As One Of Three OS Players

Windows 8 is a make or break product launch for Microsoft. Windows will endure a slow start as traditional PC users delay upgrades, while those eager for Windows tablets jump in. After a slow start in 2013, Windows 8 will take hold in 2014, keeping Microsoft relevant and the master of the PC market, but simply a contender in tablets, and a distant third in smartphones.

Microsoft has long dominated PC units, with something more than 95% sales. The incremental gains of Apple’s Mac products over the last five years haven’t really changed that reality. But the tremendous growth of smartphones, and then tablets, has. If you combine all the unit sales of personal devices, Microsoft’s share of units has shrunk drastically to about 30% in 2012.

It’s hard to absorb the reality of the shift without a picture, so in the report “Windows: The Next Five Years,” we estimated and forecast the unit sales of PCs, smartphones, and tablets from 2008 to 2016 to create a visual. As you can see below in the chart of unit sales, Microsoft has and will continue to grow unit sales of Windows and Windows Phone. But the mobile market grew very fast in the last five years, while Microsoft had tiny share in smartphones and no share in tablets. 

If you look at the results by share of all personal devices, below, you can see how big a shift happened over the last five years as smartphone units exploded and the iPad took hold. 

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Upcoming Forrester Webinar — Windows: The Next Five Years

Microsoft Windows will power just one-third of personal computing devices sold during 2012. Say what? Over the past five years, the transition to mobile devices has transformed Microsoft’s position from desktop dominance to one of several players vying for share in a new competitive landscape.

And so Microsoft is making some very bold moves to transform Windows: creating a singular touch-native UX for a seamless experience across PCs and mobile devices, building an app store distribution model, and engaging its vast user base to develop core personal cloud services.

To get a jump on Microsoft’s upcoming release of Windows 8 OS and Surface tablets, join our webinar, "Microsoft Windows Evolves From Dominance To Contender," tomorrow October 19th, 2012 from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Eastern time (15:00-16:00 GMT).

You’ll learn about the trends and behaviors shaping a painful, but ultimately successful, five-year migration for the Windows franchise. We will size and forecast the future of Windows’ presence in a device landscape where market share is measured across all computing devices, not just PCs. And we will outline the new personal computing success metrics for OS providers and ecosystems, which look beyond device market share to customer engagement across multiple formats, online services, and content delivery.

Look forward to seeing you there. 

Why Tablets Will Become Our Primary Computing Device

Tablets aren’t the most powerful computing gadgets. But they are the most convenient.

They’re bigger than the tiny screen of a smartphone, even the big ones sporting nearly 5-inch screens.

They have longer battery life and always-on capabilities better than any PC — and will continue to be better at that than any ultrathin/book/Air laptop. That makes them very handy for carrying around and using frequently, casually, and intermittently even where there isn’t a flat surface or a chair on which to use a laptop. 

And tablets are very good for information consumption, an activity that many of us do a lot of. Content creation apps are appearing on tablets. They’ll get a lot better as developers get used to building for touch-first interfaces, taking advantage of voice input, and adding motion gestures.

They’re even better for sharing and working in groups. There’s no barrier of a vertical screen, no distracting keyboard clatter, and it just feels natural to pass over a tablet, like a piece of paper, compared to spinning around a laptop.

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The Consumerization Conundrum: Why Virtual Machines Won't Work On Mobile Devices

In Forrester’s Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey, Q4 2011, we learned that 60% of information workers use their devices for work and personal tasks. This dual use of PCs, smartphones, and tablets is a growing concern. One common idea is to create a virtual machine on mobile devices, in the same way that Citrix, Microsoft, and VMware products enable hosted virtual desktops on PCs. But this idea of having a “virtual smartphone for work” within your personal smartphone simply won’t work; it’s just as bad and impractical an idea as having two separate physical smartphones! Both approaches create separate spheres of work and personal that simply don’t reflect the seamless way that many people have to switch back and forth between work and personal tasks (excluding top-secret government work, of course).

I heard about a better idea this week. What if mobile device OSes enabled separate containers or sandboxes, under the covers, for enterprise applications and their data?

The idea is to have low-level separation in the OS architecture, supported and controlled by enteprise policy and certificates, that is transparent to the user. So the screen full of icons would allow us to mix work and personal icons any way we please, but they’d be separate under the covers. So the experience would be like that of looking at the overall address book on your smartphone, which on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone all integrate your contacts from different sources into one seamless list — even though they are separate on the back end.

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Apple Advances Personal Cloud, Continues A "Think Different" Enterprise Strategy

With today’s iPad and Apple TV announcements, Apple continues to advance on two topics that I’ve been researching: personal cloud and Apples enterprise strategy.

Apple has already announced that it’s got 100 million signups for its personal cloud service, iCloud, and repeated that today. Now Apple supports movies — in addition to TV shows and music — in iCloud. Apple added PhotoStream to iCloud support in Apple TV, including the previous black Apple TV, with the new Apple TV software update. With the new iOS iPhoto app, I believe Apple will use iCloud to sync albums and the new journal information that displays weather information from the date a photo was taken — although full support will probably require an update or new version of iPhoto on the Mac.

Apple’s vision of personal cloud deeply integrates across Apple products and a wide range of personal and purchased content, including books and iTunes U-class materials. It’ll be interesting to see if the company opens up any API access. My hunch is that Apple will create tools and an app store for iCloud to interact with the personal content in the service rather than do large-scale API access.

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Employees Use Multiple Gadgets For Work — And Choose Much Of The Tech Themselves

Employees that use smart devices — PCs or mobile devices — for work have expanded their use of technology more than most people realize. How many devices do you think a typical information worker uses for work? If you only ask the IT staff, the answer will be that most use just a PC, some use a smartphone, and a few use a tablet. But our latest Forrsights workforce employee survey asked more than 9,900 information workers in 17 countries about all of the devices they use for work, including personal devices they use for work purposes. It turns out that they use an average of about 2.3 devices.

About 74% of the information workers in our survey used two or more devices for work — and 52% used three or more! This means that the typical information worker has to figure out how to manage their information from more than one device. So they’ll be increasingly interested in work systems and personal cloud services that enable easy multidevice access, such as Dropbox, Box, SugarSync, Google Docs/Apps, Windows Live, and Apple iCloud.

When you dig into the data, the mix of devices info workers use for work is different than what IT provides. About 25% are mobile devices, not PCs, and 33% use operating systems other than Microsoft.

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Smartphone OSes In Three-Way Tie Among Global Information Workers

My blog post Apple Infiltrates The Enterprise: 1/5 Of Global Info Workers Use Apple Products For Work! got lots of visibility because of how hot Apple is right now, but our data is much broader than just Apple. Our Forrsights Workforce and Hardware surveys have lots more data about all types of PCs and smart devices that information workers use for work, including types of operating systems — and we even know about what personal-only devices they have.

For example, as of the fall of 2011, the top three smartphone OSes have essentially the same share of the installed base of smartphones used for work by information workers across the globe (full-time workers in companies with 20 or employees who use a PC, tablet, or smartphone for work one hour or more per day). See the chart below and the reference in the Monday, January 30, New York Times article on Blackberry in Europe

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Apple Infiltrates The Enterprise: 1/5 Of Global Info Workers Use Apple Products For Work!

Have you noticed an increased presence of Apple products in public spaces and workspaces in the last few years? Turns out that 21% of information workers are using one or more Apple products for work. Almost half of enterprises (1000 employees or more) are issuing Macs to at least some employees – and they plan a 52% increase in the number of Macs they issue in 2012.

Sure iPhones and iPods are ubiquitous in public spaces, but Macs weren’t common, especially in the workplace. I started seeing lots of Macs in startups I visit such as Box and Evernote in Silicon Valley, and Backupify here in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But it got really interesting when I started seeing a few employees at large established tech vendors using Macs, where corporate IT usually doesn’t support them and seeing a disproportionate number of Macs among Starbucks loungers. The clincher was the behavior of CTOs at two large infrastructure software companies that have a group of CTOs that work across the company. In both cases, almost all of them were using Macs – and they were making fun of the remaining Windows holdout for using a “typewriter.” Of course, the iPad added to this phenomena, which is visible when you walk down the aisle of long haul flights in the US – there are lots of iPads, especially in first class.

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