As is the case in each year’s research, the 2015 Techaisle SMB Mobility Adoption Trends survey asked respondents to detail their plans for acquisition of different types of client devices. Two of the major categories investigated by the survey were desktop PCs and notebook PCs. Here, as was the case last year, Techaisle finds stronger purchase intentions for desktops than for notebooks: 30% of US small businesses and 75% of US midmarket companies are planning to buy desktops in 2015, as compared with 18% of small businesses and 63% of midmarket firms reporting notebook purchase intentions. Projected volumes of purchases are also generally higher for desktops than for notebooks.
However, corporate purchase intentions do not provide a complete perspective on mobile device acquisitions. While one can assume that all desktops connected within a business are company-owned, both data and experience suggests that some of the notebooks used within a corporate environment are employee-owned. By including potential employee purchases of notebooks as a factor in the expansion or refresh of corporate notebook fleets, the SMB PC acquisition outlook for 2015 gets altered.
SMB purchase intentions of desktops and notebooks and the potential impact of BYOD
Techaisle survey data shows that microbusinesses with 1-9 employees are much more likely to be buying desktops than notebooks, and that other employee size SMBs are planning to buy 25% to 99% more desktops than notebooks. However, by overlaying BYOD statistics drawn from the survey and assuming employee purchases of notebooks equivalent to current BYOD penetration levels, study finds that new notebook units would be about equal to new desktop purchases in most employee size segments. Based on further detailed analysis and comparing data with 2014 and 2013 survey results, Techaisle’s estimate for the likely ratio of new desktops to new notebooks in US SMBs in 2015 is likely to be between 1:1 and 1:6 depending upon employee size segment (excluding 1-9 employee size segment which is heavily weighted towards desktop purchases).
Of course, notebooks are not the only type of compute device used within SMBs.
Tablets: widespread use, additional units en route, albeit in low volumes
The survey found that tablets have established a foothold in small businesses and they are firmly entrenched within midmarket mobile device portfolios. Purchase plans for 2015 indicate that the population of tablets within US SMBs will increase in 2015: just over 20% of microbusinesses, roughly 45% of “larger” small businesses, and more than half of midmarket businesses plan to buy tablets in 2015. But the purchase volumes are not likely to be very high in any employee size segment resulting in a low double-digit percentage increase in tablets used by US SMBs in 2015.
Chromebooks: no evidence of substantial growth in 2015
The Techaisle US SMB 2015 mobility survey finds that interest in Chromebooks appears to be relatively flat. Chromebooks represent budget-friendly alternative to Windows-based notebooks, albeit without access to the Microsoft Office suite of productivity applications. In its analysis Techaisle compared data on 2014 and 2015 purchase intentions for Chromebooks to arrive at “net Chromebook additions” per SMB in each employee size segment. The “net” data shows that while Chromebook buying intentions for companies with 10-99 and 500-999 employees is increasing in 2015 (vs. 2014), there is flat or declining interest in the 1-9 and 100-499 segments. Assessing the overall SMB impact of these purchase plans, Techaisle estimates that Chromebook unit sales may be up by just over 6% in 2015 within US SMBs in 2015 as compared to 2014.
The above data is for US market. Similar analysis and data is in the works for other countries - UK, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, India, China.