Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) share of the global smartphone market has never been particularly high. According to research company IDC, Apple's iPhone accounts for about 15% of global smartphone shipments. Handsets powered by Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Android, in contrast, account for more than 80%. The same is largely true for tablets -- although Apple's iPad is more popular (relatively speaking) than the iPhone, Android tablets still outsell it by more than two to one.
But there's one market where these numbers are reversed. When it comes to enterprise customers, Apple's devices are dominant.
Apple's enterprise share by the numbers
According to Good Technology, a provider of enterprise mobility services, 72% of mobile devices activated in the first quarter were powered by Apple's iOS. Google's Android, in contrast, accounted for just 26%. These numbers come from Good Technology's own customers, but given its large and diverse customer base -- more than 6,200 organizations in 190 countries -- it appears to be a good indicator of overall industry trends.
The disparity between the market at large and the enterprise market in particular could come down to pricing and app support. Although there are plenty of high-end Android devices for sale, the bulk of Android phones sold worldwide are inexpensive. According to ABI Research, the average Android handset sold for just $254 in the fourth quarter of 2014, compared to $687 for the average iPhone. While plenty of these low-end Android phones are perfectly serviceable, more demanding enterprise customers may have the resources to choose more expensive and more capable devices.
There's also the issue of app support. Google and Samsung have both made attempts at driving increased workplace adoption for Android -- Google has its Google for Work Program; Samsung has KNOX -- but Apple has taken unprecedented steps to ensure that iOS receives a growing number of workplace apps.
Last year, Apple announced a partnership with IBM designed to increase its enterprise penetration. In December, it detailed the first iOS apps and services borne out of the partnership, and it announced even more in April.
Saving the iPad
When it comes to tablets, Good Technology reported an even larger gap. In the first quarter, the iPad represented 81% of enterprise tablet activations, compared to just 15% for Android. This is great news for Apple as it seemingly looks to the enterprise to revive its struggling tablet lineup. The iPad remains a robust business, but sales of Apple's tablet have fallen in recent quarters. Last quarter, in terms of revenue, it was overtaken by the Mac.
On the company's last earnings call, Apple's management highlighted the iPad's dominance in the enterprise space. CEO Tim Cook declared that he was a "big believer in the ability for iPad to play in a major way in enterprise."
Apple has yet to announce the product, but a slew of supply chain-based leaks have suggested that Apple is working on a larger, enterprise-focused iPad. That device, perhaps paired with a custom smart stylus, could become the dominant computing device for countless enterprise workers.
Another reason to like Apple
The market for enterprise devices is obviously smaller than the global device market in general, but Good Technology's report should be seen as a positive for Apple shareholders. The enterprise market alone can't generate the sort of demand Apple has seen in the last two quarters, but it's a base of customers that Apple should be able to rely on for many years to come.
Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.