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Description: The research firm IDC predicts that in 2011, computing’s third major technology wave will become mainstream, when computers held in one’s hand — smartphones and tablets — really take over and start putting personal computers in the rearview mirror.


Dec 2, 2010

Next year, the research firm says in a report published Thursday, there will be 330 million smartphones sold worldwide and 42 million media tablets. Tablet sales are expected to more than double next year, and to keep climbing, “breezing by netbooks, the phenomenon of two years ago,” said Frank Gens, chief analyst for IDC.

“The PC-centric era is over,” the IDC report says. Within 18 months, it forecasts, non-PC devices capable of running software applications will outsell PCs. In tablets, IDC adds, Apple’s iPad will remain the leader, but lower-cost tablets will begin making inroads, especially as demand for tablets really takes off in emerging markets.

IDC uses a hardware-centered definition of technology eras — devices that open up computing to large new groups of users. So, by its definition, the first era began in the 1960s, when many people got access to computers, seated at mainframe terminals. Next came personal computers in the 1980s, and mobile devices that are full-fledged computers were next.

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Questions for discussion:

  • How big is the mobile computing industry and what devices would you include?
  • Why is cloud computing so important to companies that compete in the mobile computing industry?
  • Is there any way for Apple to maintain their industry domination in the tablet industry?

34 Responses to “Smartphones and Tablets to Take Over in 2011, Researchers Say”

  1. Esmarilin

    Similar to a comment left by a another reader, I believe that the increase in mobile smartphones and tablets goes hand in hand with cloud computing. Many companies have now started running their applications through the cloud and allowing for easier access. Therefore this convenience is only further enhance by smart phones and tablets which allows mobile access to these applications run through the cloud. Although there is the prediction that they will take over, I believe they neglect the fact that size in both is an issue. As well, there will always be the need for a powerful pc at home or for your young childre, and in the business aspect. I guess we will all just have to see, what 2011 really does ring in for the new year.

  2. Crystal

    I think Apple will continue to be the leader in the tablet industry because of its brand name. Other competitors may come out with cheaper versions, but because Apple is such a well known, reliable brand name consumers will continue to buy from them. We are a brand name based society and want what we know is good. If we see the same product that is cheaper and from a different company people generally think there is something wrong with it or it’s not as good as the more expensive one. Apple continues to come out with new and improved technologies and I think it will be difficult for the other companies to overtake Apple because they seem to be always one step ahead of their competitors.

  3. Mark Molendyk

    The mobile computing industry is massive and is continuing to to grow at a rapid pace. More people are switching to smart phones because of its convience towards the consumer. Smart phones have so many functions and it is easier to check your emails on your smart phone rather than having to find a computer, log in, them check your emails. Some of the devices I would include are the BlackBerry, iphone, and the Android. As well there are more than these 3 devices.

    Apple will always be in the top 5 of the tablet industy because of their reputation as a company. Like Crystal mentioned, Apple is so well known. This gives them a better competitave advantage well selling their products vs any other brand on the market. People that have Apple products are most likely to continue buying Apple products because they can trust the products that Apple puts out.

  4. Paige

    Cloud computing is important to the mobile computing industry because users can access material from the web, and from the cloud, anywhere, anytime because these devices are always on or connected to the Internet. Mobile computing is rapidly growing because of this accessability. I agree that it is growing faster than home computers and laptops but I also think there will always be a place for these. As much as BlackBerrys and iPhones, etc. can allow you to access the web and many other programs, having an actual computer or laptop is often easier for certain processes and using certain programs. And as for Apple maintaining their domination in the tablet industry, I don’t think it will be difficult for them. Yes, there is going to be competitors and other companies copying the ideas of Apple, but they are always able to keep one step ahead of others and keep their products known and trusted.

  5. Travis VH

    The mobile computing industry is huge and a very competitive market place. Companies must always be on top of their strategies and closely watch what their competitors are doing. The mobile industry is growing rapidly and there is large potential for companies to improve products and gain some or more of the market share. As the companies in this market grow they need to remember the need for cloud computing. Consumers are using cloud computing more often as it enables easier access for the consumers and people can run all sorts of apps by using cloud computing. Right now Apple has a pretty good position in the market place as they are the leader in the industry and the most reliable and trusted brand out there. They can stay at the top if they keep innovating and being the first to develop new products for consumers.

  6. Brett

    The mobile computing industry is massive and continuing to grow at an increasing pace. As prices continue to come down, more and more people are joining the mobile computing movement. Of course when looking at the major devices one looks at Smart phones (Iphone and Blackberyy), the tablets ( mainly the ipad) but even ipods have Wifi capabilities.

    When it comes to Apple defending their tablet dominance it is almost the reverse situation that blackberry had with smart phones. Blackberry was the first to make email and other functions much easier, and are trying to hold of apple. Now Apple is trying to hold back RIM as they try to produce their tablet. The marketing behind Apple wil allow them to maintain market share but I am sure a few companies will have their own competitive advantage.

  7. Paul Quick

    I believe that smartphones and tablets are both a part of the mobile computing industry. Based on the numbers mentioned in the article, this means the mobile computing industry currently has 372 million customers, and that number is growing.

    I also believe that Apple will maintain their dominance in the tablet industry. The iPad is not just the tablet with the most sales; the entire industry revolves around it. The iPad has even spawned its own spin off industries, which include applications. Everyone is making apps specifically for the iPad, even our University library. I believe that the iPad has built up such a following, such an advantage over any potential competitors, that Apple will only lose their dominance by defeating themselves.

  8. Tiffaney G

    The rate at which the mobile computing industry is growing is insane. To think that next year smartphones and tablets will “take over” the PC market is a pretty bold, but believable statement. With the consumer need for accessibility, mobility and convenience I fully believe that with cloud computing smartphones and tablets will dominate. Although I also agree that there will always be a place for PCs and laptops for activities you may not want to carry out on your smartphone or tablet, such as watching a movie, editing pictures and movies, etc.
    I also agree that Apple will be the leader in the tablet industry because the product they have out is already widely trusted and accepted, and along with the iPad comes thousands if not millions of apps, giving them a competitive advantage.

  9. Craig Hulsman

    I believe that apple will continue to increase its dominance in both the smart phone and tablet industry. Based on its brand name alone as well as the high quality product they produce things can only continue to get better, as they are. The ipad was the first real tablet to be introduced on the marketplace which has forced company’s like research in motion (blackberry) to try and throw together their own form of the apple ipad. I know i personally just switched to the iphone and have noticed that i use my computer considerably less because i really dont need to, my iphone has everything i need right in my pocket.

  10. Kelly L

    I somewhat agree with the research firm IDC’s prediction. Although I love my iPhone and have used an iPad and think it is great, I still like the idea of a laptop the best. You have your keyboard attached and the screen is big enough where you can read everything on the screen comfortably. I hate the hassle of using my iPhone to use the internet. For some things, such as email, it is fine. However, when you are trying to do research or write a paper, I need my laptop. Desktop computers may very likely become obsolete, because why have one when you can have a laptop and take it anywhere? I think Apple will do just fine maintaining tablet industry domination, as they are well-known, excellent products that are backed by the Apple name, which is highly recognized.

  11. Dulcie

    The mobile computing industry has grown immensely within the past few years. Consumers are gravitating to the convenience of what the smart phone is able to provide. Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, where shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers. This has become increasingly important to companies as it allows them to market, work, provide services, and any other business/personal duties they may need to use throughout the day. Having a small device enables easy access all at the tip of your fingers. I still think there will continually be a demand for standard PC for designing, spreadsheets, and other ways to store/access/and use information within the workplace and at home. I believe apple will continue to dominate this industry as they are the leader in advance technology trends, and will always have that competitive advantage.

  12. Seth E

    Mobile devices have definitely taken over in the past couple years. What will be interesting to see is how businesses will have to adapt. A simple webpage will no longer be sufficient for those companies that want to use the internet as a way to attract customers. Also, cloud computing providers will be benefiting most from this transition. A main problem that I can foresee is privacy. Facebook is already having these issues in Canada, and I can imagine that as companies start to host our data in the cloud, that there will need to be updates to the laws in order to ensure that our data is safe.

  13. Mary Elizabeth Telfer

    I am really excited about cloud computing technology and having the ability to access my information anywhere. I currently carry a laptop and keep all my information, but if I were able to get my information from any where, or any device I may soon have a much lighter back pack. I do currently use drop box, but there is nothing quite like having everything on your lap top because a lot of cloud systems require an internet connection. Once the wifi internet, or 4G or what ever the next advancement in wireless is, catches up to being available everywhere, including on transit, in the mall, ect, then I may not actually need my bulky laptop anymore, and I may be able to get a tablet, such as the iPad. As for now though, I’ll stick with my bulky laptop and iPhone for my work and study needs.

  14. Danielle

    I believe that cloud computing may one day become a necessity for companies that compete in the mobile industry. I say this because if non-PC devices do become the main source of information over the PC, as stated in the article, then it will not be possible for the consumers to access all their information without it being stored “in the cloud”. Therefore if you want to remain competitive and survive in the industry you must be able to provide everything your competitor does, and to succeed, you must also provide more. This is obvious even now with companies moving more and more to online advertising just to keep up with their competitors, if they don’t they may drown.
    Since Apple already has a good product developed – the Ipad the best way for them to stay ahead in the industry they should begin to think of ways to reduce the cost of their already implemented product while other companies are still trying to come up with a competitive product. If they continue to think ahead, they will probably stay ahead!

  15. Brian Rollag

    I am really excited for this technology to emerge in 2011. For personal use such as watching television off your PC or soon to be tablet. Making it more common practice to be able to use your PC at home from anywhere in the world will also is a huge time saver. They mention that 2011 will be the year that companies will be adapting cloud technologies into their companies. Those companies will gain advantage and the companies who don’t embrace this technology sooner rather than later could be left on the outside looking in sooner than they think. It will be huge and be a major shift in the way things are done in business and at home for many years to come that will offer many advantages for everybody.

  16. Dustin Moore

    I cant say that I am surprised at all of the new technology that is coming out, looking back to when I was younger you expect things to get better as you grow older. People are paid to do these jobs, I can say though that I am very excited to see what the future brings. Having the luxury of TV on laptops, movies over the internet for a set price a month, small things that will have a major impact on people in the future. As for cloud computing this will be an essential for all businesses to have, if some businesses have it over competition it will be considered an competitive advantage for sure. These new improvements are reshaping the business world everyday that something new comes out and it is exciting to see what the future brings.

  17. Alex Dechant

    There is no doubt that this article holds a lot of truth. I have noticed the explosion in the demand for these product and will not be surprised when they surpass the notebook. I myself am very excited for this new technology, even though i currently don’t own any tablet technology. I think every company should be looking into incorporating these technologies before it gets to the point that they are a complete necessary. Now is the time to gain the competitive advantage with these technologies. As far as Apple, i believe they need to continue to focus on being the leader in this market because i am certain many companies are trying to reach and surpass the technology giant that is Apple.

  18. Sunny P.

    Apple is a very powerful company at where it stands today in the markets. I believe it will be the leading company for not only tablets but even take it to another level for smart phones as it is currently doing with the new IPhone 4. The mobile computing industry is huge currently, it is taken by so many people and it will out date many regular mobiles by the year 2012. I personally enjoy having a smartphone because it is useful for many reasons. For instance i can catch up on reading, even listen to music, maybe play a few games and even know where to find a close location. Finally, I do believe that apple can stay at the position they hold and innovate every new technology that improves people’s lives.

  19. Claudia R

    While mobility seems to be the key word for the future innovations in the field of information systems, more and more portable non-PC devices are being sold all over the world.The tendency shows as technologies have to follow the new needs of people. Everyone wants to be able to do business,connect to the web, communicate everywhere.To do so we need small, easy to use and to carry around devices; PCs don’t fulfill these requirements anymore.So people are switching to smartphones and tablets. Regarding tablets, iPad is now the market leader but, assuming that a lot of companies will try to offer an alternative product, Apple has to be able to develop and offer to customers that are becoming more and more demanding new distinctive features and appealing gadgets.

  20. Laura

    It is a bold statement to say that smartphones and tablets will take over in 2011, but it is easy to see how iPhones, Blackberrys and iPads are changing the way we use regular computers and regular phones. These devices are very convenient and are more than capable of doing many tasks for the user of the device. Mobile devices are able to use cloud computing to carry out the tasks they perform for us and this technology is a great benefit to have linked with our mobile devices.
    I believe Apple will continue to dominate this industry because of their first mover advantage and brand name that is known for quality products. Apple’s app store allows iPhone users access to a enormous amount of apps for their phone which increases the phone’s usefulness. As long as customers trust the brand and love the products, Apple will continue to be on top.

  21. Trevor

    The tablet and smart phone industry is large, and continuing to grow. It is incredible to think that this technology has only come into the market very recently, and how it has grown over the last few years. As we mentioned in our presentation on smart phones, research has shown that Apple smartphone applications have grown from 500 apps in 2008, to thousands now. This industry is growing at such a fast rate, it will be incredible to see where this industry ends up in a few years.

    Apple has a special place in this industry because they have such a solid market share attributed to their product name. Apple can sell their products at a higher price than other companies can sell theirs because of the great consumer demand for their products. Regardless of which product is better, demand will remain high for Apple products, simply because they are Apple products.

  22. Ling H

    Since I got a laptop, my desktop have become obsolete (I haven’t plugged it in the outlet for over a year). The mobile computing industry is massive. Technology is getting better and better; it is pushing people to get the newest technology. My next devices will be a smart phone and tablet. Apple always stays one step ahead of their competition. If Apple’s devices’price is similar to their competition, with their band name and reputation, Apple will continue to dominate the industry.

  23. Lauren Kingston

    When considering the mobile computing industry I would include netbooks, smartphones and tablets. The mobile computing industry is huge and being on the cutting edge of technology in this industry is a very valuable asset. Apple currently has the largest market share of tablet computers, and rightfully so. The iPad is fascinating and has so many uses there’s really something for everyone. I think that Apple will continue to be the front runners in the tablet industry because their inginuity and creativity has been unmatched for quite awhile already and I’m confident they have many exciting ideas for the future. Apple has managed to continue to appeal to many smartphone users with it’s iPhone as it has been around for a few years now and is as popular as ever. I think that Apple will always be in the running for top market share of almost anything they decide to pursue, whether it be smartphones, tablets or something else entirely. They are committed to producing the best and highest technology products around.

  24. Nianze

    Cloud computing enables users to share resources, software and information to computers and other devices on demand, and it requires no expertise in , control over, and technology to support. Also, cloud computing providers deliver common business application online, through mobile computing that could access from another web service or software, for the convenience of mobile computing industry. Also, I believe a big company like Apple, no doubt will continue to be advanced in the industry, to maintain their industry domination in the tablet industry. I believe Apple will continue to have more appealing and distinguish products for their customers.

  25. Judy E

    I do believe that Smartphones and tablets will take over in 2011. The industry is already huge and is continuing to grow at a very fast pace. I do not believe, however, that laptops will become obsolete anytime in the near future. Regardless of how convenient and easy to use Smartphones are, some things are just easier and quicker to do using a laptop. For example, writing a research paper or even just doing research for a project. I cannot imagine going through University/College without a laptop (although I can definitely imagine a better operating system than Vista on my laptop). Desktop computers will/have become obsolete due to the fact that laptops are portable, a lot more convenient, and cheap.

  26. Kelsey Kasner

    I think that Apple will continue to be a dominate leader in the tablet industry, because they are the ones who do things first. Other companies are able to copy some to the things that Apple does, and try and make the technology better, however Apple is first. This is good because those that can afford it want the most recent technology, which is Apple. Another reason is that more and more people are becoming accustomed with Apple products. For example just last year not very many people had Mac laptops, however you look around at the university now and quite a few people have them. The same can be said for the iphone. Another reason why I think that Apple will continue to be at the top is their reputation, their products have a good reputation for being of good quality, and therefore consumers don’t mind spending a little more for one of their products. Although more competitors will come along I think that Apple will be able to maintain their position in the tablet industry.

  27. Alyssa Brink

    The mobile computing industry has been growing immensely in the past few years. I believe that apple will remain on top because of their name brand. They are known all over the world and have a great reputation. Apple is able to continue charging higher prices and consumers will still purchase the product. Many other companies could come out with similar products, however, apple has created so many products first that people are just drawn to them. Apple has the iPad which many people are creating applications for, they have such a huge following of people that it will continue to dominate the marketplace.

  28. Jason F

    Smart phones have become the way to do everything. Be it banking, email, games, anything you want to do, you can do from the palm of your hand. Apple is way ahead of the times, they always have been. The i-phone was a year ahead of anybody coming up with that same sort of technology and now Apple has done it again with the i-pad. I believe they are right when they say that non-PC’s will outsell PC’s in the near future, because you do not need to carry a massive computer around, when you can have an i-pad or macbook air. Which is good for the consumer, because that will mean the price will drop for PC’s. Cloud computing is just getting started with the way you can do business. For our group assignments, rather then have a meeting, we can just meet online and chat and write our paper that way. It is reliable and efficient, so I plan to see more advancements in the near future.

  29. Mahreen

    I think Apple will definitely take over the tablet industry just because of its brand awareness not to mention their products are great and always maintain that competitive edge. Sure, other companies can replicate their product or come up with cheaper alternatives but they have created such strong brand awareness that they won’t have a problem in staying at the top of the game.
    Apple keeps coming up with new and innovative products/ technologies and in the long run i don’t think it will be possible for companies to dominate this industry as Apple always stays ahead in the game with its great products and i believe they really have a great understanding of their target market.

  30. Kara H

    I think Apple is going to have majority of the market share in the tablet industry because they have already established themselves well with their customers. Other companies will try to introduce new tablets that are cheaper, but customers and consumers know that Apple is a reliable brand that they do not mind spending a little more money for as they know that their product is going to work well.

    I also agree that smartphones are taking over a large market share of CPUs. With the invention of the iPhone and Blackberries, consumers can simply do majority of the things they do on their phone rather than on a computer. It is also much easier to carry around a Smartphone than a laptop or even a Notebook for that matter.

    Overall, I think that this is just the beginning of something we are going to see for a very long time. We slowly changed from the record to the cassette to the CD and now to MP3s. It is only a matter of time before the “tower/monitor” computers we are used to are almost extinct like records or cassettes.

  31. evan staal

    I am not too crazy about the new explosion of smartphones and tablet computers in the market place. I am not a technological ignoramus, I actually consider my self kind of a computer nerd. It seems the reason these devices are blowing up on the market is because of capabilities to send emails, phone calls, and social network. I would like to see a poll of smart phones users to find out what they dominantly use the devices for.
    Personally my needs go way beyond a smartphone or tablet, that is why I am still an avid Personal Computer Advocate. How am I suppose to use my smart phone or tablet computer as the main processor/GUI for when I am recording music with Pro Tools? There’s still going to be Personal Laptops and Computers out there for guys like me, however they’re just going to be getting more expensive while smartphones and tablets get cheaper

  32. Amy

    Smart phones and tablets are definitely the way to go now, they are generally very easy to use, light weight and so convenient how could anyone resist. the technology industry is most likely the fastest paced industry world wide and for good reason — they make good money doing it. People like having everything they need literally in the palm of their hands, and with families having both parents having to work these smart phone and tablets enable parents to keep track of everything from outside the home, and people like their toys, they may not have a great need for all the new technological devices but they like the way they feel owning them. It is easy to see why these newer devices will leave the now conventional PC in the rear view, when you look at the new family dynamics and consider that fortunately for the technology industry mankind is very materialistic.

  33. Jake Robinson

    I am not surprised by this prediction that smartphones and tablets will take over in 2011. The market has already made a significant shift, and I am eager to see sales of the iPad this last quarter. The market demands sleekness these days. Sleekness and convenience is what people are looking for, which is exactly what the iPad gives. Although I thinks some improvements still need to be made, such as I think it is bogus that you can’t plug your iPad into a projector and have it work seamlessly – that is only with specific apps right now. Also, I think they will continue to become more powerful, one day becoming the new laptop. As far as cloud computing goes, I’m still not sure about it. I am a regular user of “DropBox,” but still don’t understand how it all works. I think the ambiguity of this technology will continue to hold people back for a little longer, until it has been 100% proven.

  34. marlo mcadam

    I do not think that Apple has the ability to continue to dominate the smartphone and tablet industry. Although at this time Apple seems to dominate the industry in North America. There are some flaws with the IPad and Iphone that other companies may be able to correct by coming into the industry a bit later into the game. For a business person or company to switch over completely to Apple, they are forced to download and pay for Apple’s adaptation of Java. However, if another company offers a smartphone or tablet that comes loaded with Java, they would have a competitive advantage, especially if Java is something that the owner uses all the time. As an owner of many Apple products, I do enjoy all the extras that they offer, but I have numerous times run into situations that it would have been nice to viewing a webstie with Java. So if there was a tablet that did over all the perks that and IPad offers, then perhaps it would be something to add to the christmas list.

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