Gartner: Low-cost PCs to go big by 2012

Research firm says 30 percent of mobile PCs will be priced below US$300 by 2012, with telcos finding new revenue streams in these systems.

SINGAPORE--By 2012, at least 30 percent of all mobile PCs sold to consumers globally will be priced below US$300, offering market players new revenue opportunities, Gartner predicts.

At a briefing here Wednesday to outline the research firm's 2009 predictions, research director Robin Simpson said low-cost PCs allow vendors to increase penetration in emerging markets across the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Wireless functionality that facilitates mobile Internet connectivity makes these devices attractive to telecommunications service providers, thereby, opening a new distribution channel, Simpson explained.

"These products become interesting for telecommunication operators to bundle with their services. Margins have to be low, but the opportunity is good," he said.

According to Gartner, with more employees connecting their self-purchased low-cost PCs to the corporate network, companies must consider security and management policies on non-corporate devices.

Enterprises should also evaluate the potential of these devices to enable new business opportunities.

Gartner also predicts by the end of 2013, some 40 percent of business knowledge workers will have abandoned or removed their desk phone.

Simpson suggested that companies view the calling patterns of employees. He said a study within Gartner showed that 40 percent of calls between its employees were made from and to mobile phones--even though both colleagues were sitting at their desks in the office. "This is because of their familiarity with the mobile phone functions, such as direct dial and voice mail, and the certainty of getting through to the intended person," he said.

Gartner said organizations should evaluate employees' need for a desk phone and a mobile device, and plan accordingly to reduce unnecessary expenses.

According to the research firm, wireless operators will cease offering unlimited mobile data plans by the end of this year.

New bandwidth-intensive smart phones and mobile Internet devices are accelerating the demand for bandwidth, driving significant increases in mobile data usage, Gartner said.

Simpson noted how the Apple iPhone and similar mobile phones have simplified how users access data networks.

"While operators sold many iPhones, customers are using these [devices] for data services," he explained. "Business users, too, are accessing 3G-based services using their PC network cards."

With networks hitting capacity, and greater customer demand impacting network availability and effective throughput, mobile data services are slowing down as carriers frequently fail to deliver on promised speeds, Gartner noted.

Meanwhile, high-definition video meeting products will replace 2.1 million airline seats annually, costing the travel and hospitality industry US$3.5 billion per year.

Simpson said the current economic conditions are pushing organizations to revisit the need for face-to-face meetings. While telepresence will not offer the best the solution at all times, not every meeting needs to be conducted in person, the analyst said. Undoubtedly, he added, telepresence will provide a real alternative for many businesses.

"Companies should put aside previous prejudices and bad memories of older video-conferencing services and seriously investigate these new technologies," he said.

Other highlights of Gartner's Top 10 predictions include:

  • From 2009 to 2013, the server virtualization software market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 28 percent, rising from US$1.8 billion to US$6.2 billion.
  • By 2011, 30 percent of consulting and systems integration revenue will be delivered via "cloud computing".
  • In 2012, the major PC vendors will recycle only one PC for every five they ship.
  • By 2012, successful enterprises will actively encourage and reward more failures in order to find the optimal approach they want more quickly.
  • By 2012, as many as one in three of the top 20 business process outsourcing (BPO) providers will no longer exist.
  • By end-2012, physical sensors will create 20 percent of non-video Internet traffic.

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