More than 916m “smart connected devices” – which include PCs, tablets and smartphones – were shipped in 2011, with revenue surpassing US$489bn, according to new research.
According to research firm IDC, these device shipments should reach 1.1bn worldwide by 2012. By 2016, shipment could reach 1.84bn units, more than doubling the 2011 figure.
"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," said Bob O’Donnell, vice-president of Clients and Displays at IDC.
Smartphone growth will be driven by Asia/Pacific countries, particularly in China, where mobile operators are subsidising 3G smartphones.
China, in particular, is certainly becoming a huge target market for mobile vendors and Apple CEO Tim Cook is currently visiting the country looking to further the company’s investment in the area.
The research firm believes there will be a “relatively dramatic shift” in platforms between 2011 and 2016. It predicts that the Windows on x86 platform will slip from a leading 35.9pc share in 2011 to 25.1pc in 2016.
Meanwhile, the number of Android devices running on ARM CPUs will grow slightly from 29.4pc in 2011 to 31.1pc in 2016. iOS devices are expected to grow from a 14.6pc share in 2011 to 17.3pc in 2016. However, the firm believes developers will focus more on iOS as users are more likely to pay for apps on this platform.
"Android’s growth is tied directly to the propagation of lower-priced devices," said Tom Mainelli, research director of Mobile Connected Devices at IDC.
"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,” he said.
IDC believes that as the world continues to progress in “the multi-device age,” the challenge will be to integrate all of these devices into a “unified whole” with personal cloud apps and services.