mobile devicesMobility spending in North America will grow an estimated 10% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) over the next five years, reaching a “staggering” $71.5 billion. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) will drive much of that growth, presenting mobility companies across the value chain with outsized opportunities, according to a new study from AMI.

Accounting for more than 98% of the 7.6 million small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) across the region, small businesses (SBs) account for $8 of every $10 spent on mobility-related products and services. Though they make up only 2% of regional SMBs by number, mid-size businesses (MBs) account for the remaining 20% of mobility spending, presenting market participants with a particularly attractive market opportunity, according to AMI’s, “2014 North America SMB Mobility Landscape, Opportunity Assessment & Outlook.”

“On a per-firm basis, MBs spend considerably more than SBs—up to 15 times as much. MBs are therefore a natural target for mobility up-sell opportunities and big ticket items,” AMI highlighted in a press release.

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In AMI’s report, mobility spending encompasses SMB tablet and smartphone adoption, mobile applications usage, BYOD behavior, mobile device management (MDM), and brand preferences. “The next five years will see impressive growth in North America consumption of mobility and data plans,” AMI New York associate Andrew Kirk elaborated.

“The smartphone market will experience a strong increase in related spending as a result of sustained repeat and replacement purchases. As tablet usage attains mainstream status, significantly stronger growth is expected with regard to SMB installed base, volume and associated spend. We’re forecasting a 21 percent CAGR in the U.S. and Canada for tablet data plans alone.”

Apple’s iOS smartphones and tablets continue to be the leading brand among North America’s SMBs, though Android devices are gaining ground, with Samsung smartphones and tablets leading the “Android surge.” AMI foresees Windows 8 smartphones and tablets making “notable inroads,” with “Microsoft increasingly driving an integrated strategy across its Windows 8 mobile platform, and directing more business-critical apps at the SMB segments.”

Ongoing increases in smartphone and tablet processing speed and power are redefining the North America workplace and workforce, the result being that smartphones and tablets are now being used to perform tasks formerly performed on and by traditional PCs, laptops and notebooks, AMI notes.

“This is causing a technology disruption being felt across the ICT industry. In addition to basic communications activities, tablets are being used by SMBs for productivity-related applications such as editing, sharing and storing documents,” AMI says. “Their use for interactive and real-time communications and collaborative functions is also on the rise.”

In its report, AMI also examines growing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) use by North American SMBs. “BYOD penetration is typically higher for the more widely used smartphones (64 percent of SMBs) than tablets (54 percent of SMB firms),” the market research company points out. “The need to control the type of mobile devices used by employees is higher among mid-sized businesses. A majority of MBs maintain a preferred list of brands and directly hand out tablets to employees.”

Both SBs and MBs across the region are making growing use of mobile device management (MDM). “This is particularly the case with mid-sized businesses, for which one of the highest growth areas in the next 12 months includes usage of hosted virtual desktops and MDM software to support mobile devices across the organization.”

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