The last year saw a massive surge in shipments of smart-connected devices - PCs, media tablets and smartphones. The total crossed 916 million units and combined revenue surpassed $489bn, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).
"Smartphone growth will be driven by Asia/Pacific countries, especially China, where mobile operators are subsidizing the purchase of 3G smartphones, thus increasing the total addressable market. In many if not all instances, the smartphone will be the primary connection to the Internet," opines Bob O'Donnell, Vice President of Clients and Displays at IDC.
"Whether it's consumers looking for a phone that can tap into several robust 'app' ecosystems, businesses looking at deploying tablet devices into their environments, or educational institutions working to update their school's computer labs, smart, connected, compute-capable devices are playing an increasingly important role in nearly every individual's life," O'Donnell added.
IDC predicts a bright future for smart-connected devices, with an estimated forecast topping 1.1 billion worldwide shipments in 2012 (which will reach a whopping 1.84 billion units by 2016). The far-reaching statistics suggest insatiable demand. In other words, it translates to a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15.4 percent for the five-year forecast period.
Check out the graphic chart illustrating the size and composition of the worldwide smart connected device market for the 2010-2016 forecast period, courtesy IDC.com.
The IDC forecast further suggests a dramatic shift in 2011-2016 that tips the scales in favour of Android-based devices running on ARM CPUs, which is expected to grow modestly from a 29.4 percent share in 2011 to a market-leading 31.1 percent in 2016. In contrast, the once-dominant Windows on x86 platforms is expected to slide from a leading 35.9 percent share in 2011 down to 25.1 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, iOS-based devices are projected to grow from 14.6 percent share in 2011 to 17.3 percent in 2016.
"Android's growth is tied directly to the propagation of lower-priced devices," said Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices. "So, while we expect dozens of hardware vendors to own some share in the Android market, many will find profitability difficult to sustain. Similarly, we expect a large percentage of application developers to continue to focus their efforts on iOS, despite the platform's smaller overall market share, because iOS end users have proven more willing to pay for high-quality apps," added Mainelli.
Research conducted by IDC suggests many individuals own and regularly use multiple smart connected devices.
"We are in the multi-device age," continued O'Donnell, "and we believe the number of people who use multiple devices will only continue to increase. The trick, moving forward, will be to integrate all these devices into a unified whole through use of personal cloud-type applications and services. That's the real challenge of what we have often called the 'PC Plus' era."
"Smartphone growth will be driven by Asia/Pacific countries, especially China, where mobile operators are subsidizing the purchase of 3G smartphones, thus increasing the total addressable market. In many if not all instances, the smartphone will be the primary connection to the Internet," said Will Stofega, program director, Mobile Phone Technologies and Trends, "In countries where devices are not subsidized by the mobile operators, competitive and component-based pricing will help drive volume."