Mobile devices and cloud services represent a third major platform, following mainframes and PCs, said Frank Gens, an IDC chief analyst. As with the shift to PCs in 1986 some are debating whether the new platforms including social networks and analytics are powerful and secure enough, and risk missing the shift.
"A critical mass of people is realizing its time to stop arguing and start bringing these technologies into the center of what they are doing," Gens said.
In an indication of the shift, IDC predicts more than 400 million smartphones will ship in 2011, surpassing about 380 million desktop and notebook PCs for the first time. It also forecasts as many as 1.3 million Apple iOS and Google Android apps will be available by the end of the year, compared to about 75,000 PC applications.
"Some portion of these apps are ‘Angry Birds’ games or fart generators, but the number of mobile enterprise apps are probably in the high hundreds of thousands," said Gens.
As many as 80 percent of enterprise apps developed in 2011 will be for so-called cloud services delivered over the network, IDC estimates. By 2014, about 30 percent of all business apps used will be via the cloud, it believes.
The predictions came one day after Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest IT company, rolled out its strategy which included plans for new cloud services, more mobile devices and new business analytics offerings.
Amazon.com and Microsoft have already rolled out service-based platforms, and IBM and Oracle will follow in the near future, Gens predicted. The rise in digital stored data from about 1.8 Zettabytes in 2011 to more than 7 ZBytes in 2014 will force a new generation of real-time data analytics systems beyond today’s relational databases, he added.
The growing fragmentation of portable systems is leading to mobile madness, said Bob O’Donnell, IDC’s analyst for clients and displays. "Quite honestly, it’s chaos," he said.
U.S. buyers of Apple iPads in 2010 said they own about 6.6 portable devices on average including notebooks, smartphones, MP3 players and portable navigation devices, according to an IDC survey.
The boom in media tablets—which IDC forecasts to grow to more than 110 million units a year in 2014—is just part of a broader trend.
In 2010 about 698 million computing devices of all sorts will ship, about 47 percent of them Windows and Intel based PCs. But by 2014 the number of devices will more than double to 1.47 billion, only about 27 percent of them Wintel based, IDC predicts.
"There is much more diversity coming, and you need to figure out the implications of that," he told an audience of more than 1,000 attendees.
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