Smart IBM i Shops Get Connected. . . Devices, That Is
April 2, 2012 Jenny Thomas
Smart connected devices, which includes PCs, media tablets, and smartphones, are taking over the world. At least, that’s what I decided when I saw IDC reported more than 916 million units shipped and revenues surpassing $489 billion dollars in 2011 for these three classes of devices.
By now, most of us get it. You can’t escape smart devices, which are no longer a personal luxury, but becoming a common tool in schools and in the workplace. But let’s put things into perspective by looking at the numbers.
IDC combined the totals from its worldwide quarterly PC tracker, mobile phone tracker, and media tablet tracker, to come up with the nearly 1 billion smart devices it says shipped last year. What’s more, IDC predicts that smart connected devices should top 1.1 billion worldwide in 2012. By 2016, IDC predicts shipments will reach 1.84 billion units, more than double the 2011 figure. This works out to a compound annual growth rate of 15.4 percent for the five-year forecast period.
The U.S. Census Bureau currently clocks the world population at just over 7 billion, with 2.1 billion people currently connected to the Internet; another 1.1 billion will join the ranks by 2015, according to Intel. In just 2011 alone, there were enough devices shipped to give half of us already on the Internet a new device to get to the net. Obviously, in many cases, people have multiple devices already and the average in the Western economies is approaching three devices per person. The odds are that as the middle class forms in the emerging markets, people will want a tablet as well as a smartphone and possibly one PC in the house. What applies to people at home applies equally well to people at work, who want to use multiple devices because they are comfortable with doing things this way. This seems only fair: If you want me to be able to work at any time, I want to be able to do it with the device I happen to have nearest to me.
So IBM i shops, take heed, if they’re not already in your shop, the smart device invasion is coming. Coding just for PCs isn’t going to cut it anymore. And you are going to face a challenge figuring out how to integrate, manage, and secure all of these disparate and incompatible devices as end users in essence build a personal cloud out of apps available on multiple devices instead of just having a work PC on their desks or laptops. And your customers want to reach you through myriad devices, too, so even if you can impose draconian restrictions on your end users, you ain’t going to get away with that with your customers.
In terms of platforms, IDC expects a shift between 2011 and 2016, with the once-dominant Windows on X86-based PCs slipping from a leading 35.9 percent share of devices in 2011 down to 25.1 percent in 2016. The number of Android-based devices running on ARM CPUs, on the other hand, will grow modestly from a 29.4 percent share in 2011 to take the top shipper status of 31.1 percent of total smart connected devices shipped in 2016. Meanwhile, iOS-based devices will 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, IDC research director of 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.”
Smartphone growth will be driven by Asia/Pacific countries, especially China, where mobile operators are subsidizing the purchase of 3G smartphones, which will be the primary connection to the Internet for many new users. In countries where devices are not subsidized by the mobile operators, competitive and component-based pricing will help drive volume.