November 6, 2012 – Sales of smartphones and tablets will surpass the 1 billion mark for the first time in 2013, as enterprises play an advancing role in equipping their employees for mobile work, according to a new Gartner Research mobile market assessment.

Gartner expects 821 million smartphones and tablets to be sold worldwide in 2012, and foresees smart devices to represent nearly three-fourths of all mobile devices sold this year. Looking beyond next year, Gartner estimated that 40 percent of the workforce will be mobile and that two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone by 2016.

By the end of 2012, businesses will have purchased approximately 13 million tablets, according to Gartner. That number is expected to hit 53 million tablets sold by 2016.

Gartner research VP Carolina Milanesi said in a release with the market assessment that mobile devices should not be expected to “entirely replace” PCs for most businesses.

“[B]ut the ubiquity of smartphones and the increasing popularity of tablets are changing the way businesses look at their device strategies and the way consumers embrace devices,” said Milanesi.

In terms of smart device vendors, Gartner estimates that 56 percent of enterprise smartphone purchases in North America and Europe will be Android devices by 2016, an increase from 34 percent of enterprise Android sales by the end of this year and an overthrow of current leader Apple. Gartner also sees Windows 8 taking the third-place position in the enterprise tablet market by 2016 behind Apple and Android, respectively, as businesses take the lead in tablet adoption as opposed to consumers.

In its forecast, Gartner stated that the precipitous rise of Android will pose a new range of mobile security and governance challenges. As more enterprises invite consumer-purchased smart devices, IT departments must factor in BYOD as part of its data management policies, Gartner suggested.

Gartner made the mobile forecast Tuesday during its Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Barcelona, Spain.