Mobile Devices Now Exceed PCs & Laptops
According to research firm Canalys, smartphones exceeded PC shipments for the first time in 2011. Expect this trend to be permanent. Canalys was focused on mobile devices exceeding all PC, laptop, netbook and tablet shipments combined. At EdgeLens we categorize tablets as part of the smart mobile category. When you combine smartphones and tablets into one category and the legacy computing devices PC, notebook and netbook sectors into a group, the trend is even more startling.
In 2011, approximately 551 million smartphones and tablets (smart mobile devices) were shipped compared to only 351 million legacy computing devices. Even more startling are the growth rates. PCs and laptops show modest growth at 2.3 and 7.5% respectively. By contrast, smartphones showed growth shipments of nearly 63% and tablets 274%.
The End of the PC Era?
So what does this mean for the Enterprise? Prognostications of the end of the PC era are premature. PCs, and in particular laptops, pack a tremendous amount of computing power and functionality into a small box at an attractive price. That power and price to value ratio still has merit. We may be seeing the beginning of the end of the PC era, but it still has some more life to it. What we know for sure is that media consumption isn’t moving to the PC from the television. It may have made a pit stop at laptops for a few moments but mostly has lept straight to tablets. The form factor, portability and brilliant screens make them the obvious choice for media consumption on the go. Smartphones less so due to screen size. Tablet dominance of media consumption was evident in the Ooyala video index findings for Q4 2011: tablet viewers were 45% more likely to watch at least 75% of the video compared to PC users.
While we all know that media consumption in the enterprise is growing, it is not a dominant application. PCs and laptops are still the workhorses of content creation and data manipulation. The current trajectory of tablet innovation still favors content consumption over creation so expect the PC platforms to maintain their enterprise residence for several more years. Because they are lacking in content creation usability, tablets still must be seen as additive to and not replacements of PCs in the enterprise.
Mobility’s Big Idea for the Enterprise
So we still have PCs and laptops while the enterprise is being invaded by smart mobile devices. But what purpose will they serve? That’s the question that has many CIOs scratching their heads. The internet didn’t replace brochures…at least at first. Internet based EDI didn’t replace VANs immediately. It took mobile phones nearly 15 years to start replacing desk phones. Smartphones are clearly a step-change in the mobile phone ecosystem. That replacement should be complete in the next two years. Tablets are something entirely different.
New technologies come in three flavors: useless, evolutionary and revolutionary. You can draw your own conclusions on useless. Replacement technologies tend to be evolutionary. Revolutionary technologies are additive. They enable entirely new capabilities. This is the what we are seeing with smartphones and tablets. The story of their usefulness is just beginning to be written. Doctors accessing real-time data at a patient’s bedside. Salesmen showing a prospective client a video about the latest product innovation while at lunch. Conference participants receiving data directly through a custom iPad app. We are barely scratching the surface.
Mobility is revolutionary for the enterprise. It is changing how we work, where we work and what tools we have access to at any given time. Mobile technologies are also moving rapidly through the enterprise whether the IT department likes it or not. How to understand this trend and what to do about it will be the focus of this publication. Rest assured, mobility is more than a trend. It is now a fact of corporate IT. Get used it and enjoy. It will change a lot for the better.