PCs taking a back seat to tablet computers

The same thing is reportedly happening in businesses, as the report shows that during 2011, companies will buy more than 10 million tablets, accounting for more than 25% of all tablet computer sales in the Western world.

This percentile will rise in 2012 and beyond, the report adds.

In its analysis of the major report, the Reuters newswire observes that Deloitte says the healthcare and retail sectors alone could purchase some 5 million tablets this year.

"This year, as a result of the surge - along with strong smartphone sales - sales of personal computers will represent less than half of the total computing device market for the first time ever", noted the newswire.

Specifically, smartphone sales will reach 375 million devices in 2011, while the tablet market will reach 50 million, Deloitte predicts.

According to Symantec, the move towards tablet computers in the enterprise sector poses multiple security challenges.

This exponential rise, says Symantec, is reflective of the consumerisation of IT and the shift towards users either bringing their own personal devices into the enterprise, or using their business devices for personal use

Many enterprises, adds Symantec, lack the ability to adequately support and extend access to various consumer devices, like the iPhone, iPad and Android, which puts both corporate data and business communications at risk

And it gets potentially worse, as Symantec's analysis of the Deloitte report notes that this fundamental shift in behaviour offers tremendous productivity increases but also represents new security and management challenges for three key groups - IT organisations, consumers and communication service providers.

Stephen Drake, program vice president for mobile and telecoms research with IDC, meanwhile, backs up Symantec's analysis.

"The explosion of new mobile device platforms into the marketplace and the growing use of these devices for personal and business use has increased the challenge for organisations and individuals to gain a comfortable level of control", he said.

"Individuals and organisations must take action to secure and manage these devices to ensure their personal and corporate information remains safe", he added.

Andrew McGrath, executive director of Virgin Media Business, said that the trend towards gadgets in the workplace is only going to increase.

"Developing well defined usage policies and educating employees so that they are clear about why these practices have been put in place is [the] key", he said.

"For example, if Mike in finance wants to use his iPad to access files on the move, he'll know that he needs to register the device with IT in order to get the right security settings implemented", he added.

"Knowing which employees are using which devices on the network will help the business to support staff, ensure that confidential information is safe and that business bandwidth isn't mysteriously being eaten up."

"Once the ground rules have been set, businesses are free to fully embrace new technologies and enjoy all of the benefits that they offer."

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