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Survey: For enterprise workers, iPhone beats BlackBerry

Enterprise has long been the bastion of RIM (s RIMM) and its BlackBerry devices, but it has been infiltrated by Apple (s AAPL) and its challenger, the iPhone. According to a quarterly survey of enterprise companies by commercial Wi-Fi provider iPass, (s ipas) the iPhone has a 45-percent market share of mobile employee usage, passing the undisputed king BlackBerry, for the first time.

IPass’s Mobile WorkForce Report, released Wednesday, gets its data from a survey of more than 2,300 mobile enterprise workers at 1,100 companies between the end of September and the end of October. We know many of the world’s richest companies are on the iPhone bandwagon already; Apple said last month that “90 percent of Fortune 500 companies” are deploying iPhones for their workers. But iPass’s report gives a bit of a broader picture of  differently sized companies that have iPhones on their network.

IPhones’ popularity for mobile workers isn’t just a result of taking market share from RIM. The overall market is expanding too. From the report:

Today 95 percent of mobile employees have smartphones, up from 85 percent in 2010, with 91 percent using their smartphone for work — a 26 percent rise compared to 2010.

At our Mobilize conference in September, a panel of mobile IT execs declared 2011 the year smartphones cemented their place in the enterprise. “2011 was the year mobile IT was born,” Bob Tinker, CEO of MobileIron, said at the time. “It was the year the IT industry figured out mobile, and it’s the year that mobile figured out IT … Every small, medium and large enterprise around the world is going to be deploying smartphones and tablets at scale over the next 12 to 18 months.”

Tablets, according to iPass, are on the rise, but have a ways to go to be at the smartphone level of penetration in the enterprise, with 44 percent of those surveyed using an iPad at work, compared to 33 percent in the second quarter of this year.

The reason mobile devices are surging in adoption among enterprise workers isn’t necessarily because IT budgets are expanding. According to iPass:

This is due in part to the adoption of “bring your own device” policies by enterprises. Currently 42 percent of mobile employees use individually-liable smartphones for work, up from 34 percent last year.

BYO smartphone policies have grown rapidly in the last year thanks to IT departments being faced with people wanting to use their own iPhone or Android (s goog) phone from home for work, something RIM never figured out. “RIM never got people to want to pay for the device themselves,” Julie Palen, SVP of enterprise telecom expense management company Tangoe, said in September. “That’s what Apple brought. And Android and Google (s GOOG) followed.”

To learn more about the needs of the mobile work force, be sure to attend our Net:Work conference in San Francisco on Dec. 8.

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