Mobile Apps Will Heat up to 'Staggering' Levels in 2011: IDC

If you think the growth and impact of mobile devices on the IT scene has been a wild ride so far, just wait and see what lies ahead in 2011. Research firm IDC is forecasting big changes in the year ahead including a plethora of new devices and huge expansion of mobile devices. In concert with that growth, IDC expects mobile device shipments will surpass PCs in the next 18 months.

IDC sees the onset of a new mainstream platform that brings together the emerging new set of cloud services, mobile computing, and social networking.

"In 2011, we expect to see these transformative technologies make the critical transition from early adopter status to early mainstream adoption," Frank Gens, IDC's senior vice president and chief analyst, said in a statement.

"As a result, we'll see the IT industry revolving more and more around the build-out and adoption of this next dominant platform, characterized by mobility, cloud-based application and service delivery, and value-generating overlays of social business and pervasive analytics. In addition to creating new markets and opportunities, this restructuring will overthrow nearly every assumption about who the industry's leaders will be and how they establish and maintain leadership," added Gens.

On the mobile side of things, IDC expects shipments of app-capable, non-PC mobile devices (smartphones, media tablets, etc.) to outnumber PC shipments within the next 18 months "and there will be no looking back," the company said in its report.

The mobile apps market continues to be dominated by the iPhone Apps Store, with Android's Marketplace a fast-rising, distant second. But just wait. IDC, says the level of activity in the mobile apps market in the year ahead will be "staggering" with almost 25 billion mobile app downloads in 2011, up from the 10 billion expected for this year.

"Over time, the still-emerging apps ecosystems promise to fundamentally restructure the channels for all digital content and services to consumers," IDC said in its report.

IDC also predicts rapid growth and change for two other emerging technologies, cloud computing and social networks.

For example, IDC expects spending on public IT cloud services will grow at more than five times the rate of the IT industry in 2011 as organizations move a wider range of business applications into the cloud. Spending on cloud services will be up 30 percent in 2011 over this year helped by a surge of use by small and medium-sized businesses. IDC expects private clouds, favored by more security conscious IT shop, to continue to evolve as infrastructure, software, and service providers collaborate on a range of new offerings and solutions.

IDC said social media solutions have gained "significant momentum in the enterprise" over the past 18 months and will continue to spike upward with the research firm forecasting a compound annual growth rate of 38 percent through 2014. IDC expects moves toward consolidation among the major software vendors as they acquire social software providers to jump-start or increase their social business footprint. Meanwhile, IDC expects the use of social platforms by small and medium-sized businesses to accelerate, with more than 40 percent of SMBs using social networks for promotional purposes by the year's end.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


cloud computing, mobile, IDC, mobile apps, mobile device