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IDC's 2013 tech predictions: Mobile devices, emerging markets drive growth

Sales of smart mobile devices will drive whopping 57% of IT market growth in 2013

By , Network World
November 30, 2012 04:24 PM ET

Network World - The most significant IT trends of 2013 are familiar -- mobility, cloud computing, social technologies and big data -- but the new year will bring a new urgency as enterprises look for vendors to move past exploratory roadmap stages and deliver genuinely competitive products and services, says research firm IDC in its annual predictions forecast.

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In the big picture, IDC says worldwide IT spending in 2013 will exceed $2.1 trillion, up 5.7% from 2012. The biggest driver of that growth will be mobility: Sales of smart mobile devices including smartphones and tablets will grow by 20%, generate 20% of all IT sales, and drive a whopping 57% of all IT market growth. Excluding smart mobile devices, IT industry growth will be just 2.9%.

The surge in mobility will lead to mobile devices surpassing PCs as the method of choice for online access. The number of people accessing the Internet through PCs will shrink by 15 million over the next four years, while the number of mobile users will increase by 91 million. In 2015, U.S. consumers accessing the Internet through mobile devices will outnumber those using PCs to access the Internet, IDC predicts.

Another driver of industry growth is emerging markets, where IT spending is projected to grow by 8.8% to more than $730 billion, or 34% of all IT spending. The rate of growth in emerging markets is twice that of developed countries, IDC says.

As vendors work to compete more aggressively in mobility, cloud, social and big data, market-share upheaval seems inevitable.

In software, for instance, SaaS vendors will grab one or more of the top share positions in the majority of the major application software markets within the next three years, IDC says. In servers, Amazon -- the largest cloud service provider -- will become a top 2 or 3 server/virtual machines vendor by 2016, the firm predicts.

Another example is in the data center arena, where converged systems and software-defined networks (SDN) will open the door for leadership shakeups. Specifically, the SDN market is forecast to reach $3.7 billion by 2016 and account for 35% share of Ethernet switching in the data center (up from almost negligible penetration in 2012). "Major networking vendors -- including Cisco, Juniper, Brocade, and HP -- are encountering both massive risk and major new opportunities to dominate what is becoming a radically new networking landscape," IDC asserts.

Also on the horizon, according to IDC's predictions:

* Mini tablet surge: The tablet market will grow by at least 42% to more than 170 million units in 2013. Mini tablets with screens smaller than 8 inches will account for as much as 60% of unit shipments, up significantly from 33% in 2012.

* Mobile platform rationalization: If a mobile platform doesn't get at least 50% of developers interested in developing apps on it, its demise is imminent. Vulnerable platforms include Microsoft, which today has attracted about 33% of developers, and RIM, which has about 9% developer interest.

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