IDC: 8 Stats Why the Post-PC, Mobile Era Is Upon Us

Big market researchers are rarely at the forefront of tech trends, as they must balance the viewpoints of startups, established vendors and enterprise IT buyers.

What firms like Gartner and IDC excel at is being a belwether for emerging trends, and providing empirical validation for them.

At its Directions 2011 conference in San Jose today, IDC Corp. analysts argued that we are entering the post-PC era of computing overflowing with data, devices and apps.

Ironically, this is a drum that SAP has been banging loudly for the past year. And gratifyingly, it is nearly identical to the Unwired Enterprise vision that Sybase has promoted since the middle of the last decade (see this whitepaper, which I had a hand in, summarizing this vision).

Here are some of the stats IDC shared, along with the implications.

1. Stat: It is 25 years (1986) since the industry began moving en masse towards client/server away from mainframes.

Implication: We are at similar transition from PC-server towards mobile devices. Already, there are “trillions of smart ‘things’ (sensors, devices, etc.), billions of users, millions of apps,” says Frank Gens, chief analyst for IDC.

2. Stat: 3 of the biggest companies that failed to transition to client-server were Cullinet (database maker that avoided new retailing model), Wang (word processor maker that chose CPU ignored by software developers) and Digital (overvalued by Wall Street).

Implication: Companies that made right moves made the leap: Dell (sold PCs by phone), EMC (took regular hard disks into the enterprise) and SAP (brought ERP from mainframe to client-server).

3. Stat: 80% of new enterprise apps to be distributed via the cloud. By 2014, 30% of enterprise application spending will be on the cloud.

Implication: Even enterprise apps will follow Apple’s App Store model, argues Gens.

4. Stat: There are 1.3 million mobile apps today, versus 50,000 to 75,000 PC applications, says Gens.

Implication: Most new apps will be vertical or industry-specific solutions.

5. Stat: 1.8 Zettabytes (1.8 billion TERABYTES) of data will be stored in 2011, up 47% year-over-year. That will grow to 7 Zettabytes in 2014.

Implication: “This is about BIG data,” says Gens, not relational databases. “This BREAKS traditional databases.”

6. Stat: 500 million smartphones and tablets to sell in 2011, versus 380 million PCs.

Implication: This is the transition year in which devices will pass PCs permanently.

7. Stat: Only 50% of smartphones and 20% of tablets in enterprise bought by IT, according to fall 2010 IDC survey.

Implication: Bring Your Own Device is huge, says IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell, and managers will need to account for that.

8. Stat: Worldwide, the average affluent consumer owns 4.8 devices, according to a recent IDC survey. In the US, that is up to 6.6 devices.

Implication: The market is hugely fragmented.