IT industry now in 'post-Windows' era

Slew of Android and iOS tablets and smartphones, coupled with the little impact Microsoft made in these markets prior to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, means a post-Windows era is now a reality.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

SINGAPORE--While the tech industry may not have yet entered the post-PC era, it has probably stepped into a post-Windows global reality with more non-Windows-based intelligent computing devices in the market today.

This was the observation by Steve Brazier, president and CEO of market research firm Canalys, who pointed out tablets and smartphones formed part of the intelligent devices landscape together with traditional computing devices such as desktops, notebooks and ultrabooks.

In his keynote address at the Canalys Channels Forum held here Wednesday, Brazier said Windows accounts for 72 percent of the traditional PC market, which comprises desktops, notebooks and netbooks. Other operating systems make up the remaining 28 percent.

The situation, though, is reversed in the intelligent devices market where other OSes such as Google Android and Apple iOS dominate with 68 percent, while Windows took 32 percent, he said, citing internal research from August 2012.

Brazier acknowledged the scenario did not take into account the possible impact Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 might have on the proportion of the OS market, but noted the enterprise uptake of Windows 8 will be limited at least for the next 12 months.

Tim Coulling, analyst for the client PC market at Canalys, elaborated on Brazier's assessment, saying Microsoft had not made much of a dent on the smartphone market since the launch of its Windows Phone operating system in late-2010.

The PC market, excluding tablets, also has been on a negative growth spiral. Even Asia-Pacific, the only region globally to clock overall growth, saw its third-quarter shipment dip 4.2 percent to 34.2 million, from 35.7 million units in the same quarter last year, added Tang Pin Chen, research analyst at Canalys.

It is only with the addition of tablet devices to the mix did the overall global market register a 2.2 percent growth, Tang noted. There were 41.2 million units shipped in third-quarter 2012, 900,000 more than the same time last year.

Coulling said Microsoft's efforts to create both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 using the same core technologies, should help the software vendor create a "virtuous cycle" between both platforms.

This would prove a sound enterprise proposition should it be executed well, and might help reverse the diminishing Windows market eventually, Coulling told ZDNet Asia in a separate interview.

However, should current market conditions prevail--such as tablets outpacing desktops and notebooks, and consumers preferring smartphones as their first computing device of choice over PCs--the post-Windows assessment is correct and here to stay, he stated.

Cloud computing "awful lot of hype"
Brazier also commented on the cloud market, saying there is "an awful lot of hype" at the moment with vendors doing their utmost to convince enterprise customers to move from on-premise deployments to cloud-based systems.

He noted the cloud computing segment contributed 5 percent of the overall IT market in 2011 and will grow to 8 percent in 2013, but this still leaves 92 percent of the IT market spend in other areas.

Poster boys for the cloud industry such as Salesforce.com and Amazon Web Services have not been profitable either, Brazier said. Salesforce.com, for example, reported second quarter loss of US$9.83 million, or US$0.07 per share, on revenue of US$731.6 million.

Predictably, other cloud service providers disagreed with Brazier's assessment.

Jaime Valles, president of Asia-Pacific, Japan and Greater China at Cisco Systems, said in his presentation at the conference the networking giant believes the cloud market will grow to comprise 20 percent to 30 percent of the overall IT expenditure between 2018 and 2020.

David Dzienciol, regional vice president and sales general manager at Parallels Asia-Pacific, also questioned how Brazier and Canalys derived the cloud spend by companies. "If a company buys a server but uses it to support its cloud services, does that fall under a box sale or a cloud one?"

Additionally, strong performances by traditional hosting operators and cloud service providers, driven by small and midsize businesses, appear to contradict the Canalys executive's opinion, Dzienciol told ZDNet Asia in a separate interview.

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