Government // Mobile & Wireless
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12/4/2009
02:34 AM
Jake Widman
Jake Widman
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IDC Predicts Big Year For iPhone, iTablet

Getting a jump on the holiday prediction season, technology analysts IDC have released their "Predictions 2010: Recovery and Transformation" report. If they're right, Apple's in the catbird seat with the iPhone and long-rumored iTablet.

Getting a jump on the holiday prediction season, technology analysts IDC have released their "Predictions 2010: Recovery and Transformation" report. If they're right, Apple's in the catbird seat with the iPhone and long-rumored iTablet.Two of author Frank Gens's ten predictions have to do with portable devices. The first is titled "Mobile Devices on a Path to Eclipse PCs" -- not, Gens hastens to say, that mobile devices are going to replace PCs. But, he says, they will take their place next to PCs as "primary client platforms for developers and users alike." By the end of 2010, Gens predicts, there will be over a billion mobile devices on the Internet, catching up fast to the 1.3 billion online PCs. And a significant (and growing) portion of those will be smartphones, with their ability to run third-party applications.

The group includes the BlackBerry as well as phones based on Windows Mobile and Android -- and the iPhone, or course. Gens expects there to be over 300,000 iPhone apps available by the end of 2010, triple the number there are now. And he sees many of the new apps coming from established firms, paralleling the growth in the use of the iPhone as a business tool.

He also sees the iPad or iTablet arriving. (He's not alone in that.) Like most of us, he expects an oversized iPod Touch rather than a tablet MacBook. Such a device could redefine the mobile device space, as the iPhone already has. As I wrote back in September, "Apple is uniquely positioned to leapfrog netbooks entirely....I'm ready to stop worrying about the Apple netbook, and start planning for the first post-netbook computing platform." Gens thinks netbook PCs will keep growing, but I wouldn't be surprised if the iPad winds up being to netbooks what the iPhone is to the mobile phone: slicker, cooler, and the device everyone's trying to imitate by 2012.

Gens does spin one other interesting idea regarding mobile devices. He predicts that many devices will come connected to their own networks -- not literally their own, but services purchased wholesale from mainstream wireless providers and sold as part of the hardware package. For example, Amazon buys wireless service from AT&T to provide the Kindle's connectivity, but the Kindle purchaser doesn't need to know that. It's a new business model for the carriers, one that carries risks that the device tying they're used to doesn't involve. Gens raises the possibility that the iPad will come with such an "AppleNet" network, letting Apple have the customer all to itself (which Apple likes) and take a slice of a transaction it doesn't necessarily have a finger in otherwise (which Apple also likes).

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