After a year of recession-ravaged sales, the IT industry is poised to return to pre-downturn revenue levels and to see evolutionary changes in the way people and businesses interact with technology, IDC said in releasing its 2010 predictions.
"In last year's predictions, we talked about how a slow global economy would act like a pressure cooker on the IT market, speeding the development and adoption of new technologies and business models," IDC analyst Frank Gens said in a statement. "What's different about 2010 is that the economic recovery will release some of the pressure on spending, enabling a number of transformational tipping points to be reached in a year of economic upswing."
IDC's latest numbers on IT spending are encouraging. The analyst firm believes consumers and businesses worldwide will spend 3.2% more on telecommunications, hardware, software and services than in 2009, returning the industry to 2008 revenue levels of about $1.5 trillion.
Emerging markets will drive more than half of new IT industry growth, with spending up 8-13% in the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, IDC said.
Looking at the IT industry in broad terms, spending on hardware, software, and services will grow in the 2-4% range, while telecommunications spending will rise 3%, the research firm predicted. The latter growth will be driven by a rebound in the Internet and data segments in mature markets and strong growth in mobile communications in emerging economies.
Among transformative technologies, the most important force in the IT market next year will be the continuing build-out and maturing of the cloud services and consumption model, IDC said. "The emergence of enterprise-grade cloud services will be a unifying theme in this area, with a battle unfolding in cloud application platforms -- the most strategic real estate in the cloud for the next 20 years."
Mobile devices will also be a powerful transformational force next year, challenging the PC as the primary Internet-enabled client platform for developers and users alike. The popularity of smartphones and the anticipated arrival of Apple's "iPad" tablet computer will help boost the number of mobile devices accessing the Internet to 1 billion by year's end, IDC predicted.
With so many devices in the hands of consumers, developers are expected to embark on an application building frenzy. The number of iPhone apps will triple to 300,000 and Android apps will surge by a factor of five or more, IDC said.
The same application bonanza is expected to occur in the netbook market, where new software ecosystems will emerge around the popular mini-laptops. Indeed, Intel on Wednesday released a beta version of a software development kit for building netbook applications. Most of the devices are powered by Intel's Atom processor.
Other IDC 2010 predictions include the emergence of a new, mashed-up generation of business applications that tap social and collaborative networks and derives analytics from them. "These 'socialytic' apps will not only bring new capabilities to customers and new growth to suppliers, but also new competition and threats to traditional leaders," IDC said.