The growing acceptance of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategies by businesses on the mainland could prove a boon for Apple in the world's second-largest economy if the results of a new survey prove accurate.
"Apple is the most important new technology supplier to the enterprise since Microsoft in 1985," said Forrester Research vice-president Ted Schadler, lead author of the company's second annual Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey that was released yesterday.
The poll of nearly 10,000 "information workers" - professionals tasked to produce or analyse ideas and data - in 17 countries from September to October last year showed that 33 per cent wanted their next smartphone purchase to be Apple's iPhone.
Forrester predicted wider adoption of BYOD that would see the number of global information workers reach 615 million this year. These workers are employed either part-time or full-time, and use a personal computer, smartphone, or media tablet at least an hour each day for work.
Based on that forecast and the data on next smartphone purchases, Forrester estimated that 208 million or about 1 in 3 global information workers would like to use an iPhone for work this year.
About 89 per cent of the mainland information workers surveyed by Forrester used their smartphones at work. Of these respondents, 49 per cent used smartphones that ran Google's Android operating system.
When asked about their next smartphone purchase this year, 98 per cent of the same mainland respondents planned to use their device for work. About 45 per cent intended to adopt iPhones, while only 28 per cent would stick with their Android smartphones. Some 14 per cent wanted to use smartphones that run Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 operating system.
Android device makers, led by Samsung Electronics, comprise the top-five smartphone brands on the mainland.
Forrester calculated total information technology spending by businesses and the government on the mainland would reach 773 billion yuan this year, up from 662 billion yuan last year.
"Apple's presence in computers, smartphones, and media tablets make it a critical supplier to the enterprise," Schadler said. He added that Android would continue to have a big share in mobile devices, while Windows media tablets could see some upward demand.