IT managers could face increasing support costs this year as the tablet and smartphone markets fail to deliver a standard operating system, Deloitte has reported.
In its Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions 2011, released today, the professional services firm warned of an increasingly diverse enterprise IT environment.
More than half the computing devices sold this year would not be PCs, it predicted, with smartphones representing 46 percent of the total 815 million devices sold.
Fifty million tablet devices were expected to be sold, of which 25 percent would be purchased by enterprises.
And although traditional PCs would still represent 75 percent of the devices in use by the end of 2011, the year may be the "tipping point" to a more heterogeneous environment, Deloitte reported.
Unlike in the PC market, where Microsoft's Windows operating system won dominance, a standard operating system for smartphones and tablets was deemed unlikely to emerge in the near future.
Last September, Gartner reported that Nokia's Symbian operating system would likely be installed on 34.2 percent of mobile devices sold in 2011.
Google's Android, Apple's iOS, Microsoft's Windows and Research in Motion were expected to represent 22.2 percent, 17.1 percent, 5.2 percent and 15 percent of the 2011 market respectively.
By 2014, Gartner predicted that open-source platforms would dominate more than 60 percent of the smartphone market while single-source platforms by Apple, Research In Motion and Microsoft lost market share.
But according to Deloitte, manufacturers were unlikely to abandon the market since the top five mobile operating systems vendors based on market share each had annual revenues in the tens of billions.
Meanwhile, mobile network providers seemed to be blocking the emergence of a dominant operating system by picking and marketing "hero" devices to promote diversity, Deloitte reported.
Optus, Telstra and VHA could not be reached for comment.
Deloitte warned that IT departments would likely face "significantly higher costs to support this new, more diverse technology environment".
"Administering a traditional PC computing ecosystem centred on a single OS can cost thousands of dollars per employee per year," it reported.
"Supporting five times as many operating systems is unlikely to require fewer people and less money. Yet telling employees to go back to the days when they had to standardise on one OS or device seems impossible: that particular genie left the bottle long ago."