Mobile cloud services to emerge in 2011

Uptake in mobile computing devices will lead to new cloud services that revolve around mobile security and capabilities to boost existing smartphone functions, industry analyst predicts.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

SINGAPORE--As mobile device adoption looks set for "tremendous growth" in the coming decade, carriers and third-party vendors are expected to ride this wave toward mobile cloud services that provide security and additional compute capabilities, a Frost & Sullivan executive stated.

According to Nitin Bhat, partner at research house Frost & Sullivan Asia-Pacific, the world is becoming more Web-connected than ever before, and will drive the number of connected devices sold globally from 6 billion in 2011 to 80 billion in 2020. Connected devices include smartphones, tablets, televisions and smart grids, Bhat said during a media briefing here Thursday to reveal the research firm's 2011 ICT predictions.

The analyst went on to note that in terms of smartphones sales, the Asia-Pacific region will experience a jump from 50 million devices sold to 100 million in 2011. This figure will account for 20 percent of total mobile devices shipped across the region this year, he added.

The increased adoption of Web-enabled mobile devices would, in turn, lead to the emergence of mobile cloud services revolving around mobile security and additional compute capabilities for smartphones, he predicted.

Bhat explained: "As more people use smartphones and tablets, there will be more viruses that would be aimed at these devices. There are already viruses for Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms and through SMS [short message service], and we're expecting the first signs of malware for tablets to emerge this year."

To respond to these threats, many third-party vendors are already offering remote security services such as remote wipes, though, mainly to enterprise customers, he said. Asia-Pacific carriers, however, are still slow to capitalize on this trend and provide these services to their customer base, he noted.

That said, Bhat predicted that carriers are likely to enhance existing smartphone capabilities, which are currently "limited", through the cloud. These include increasing the device's memory capacity and processing speed, he said.

"Rich communications" come to fore
Besides new cloud services, Bhat noted that "richer communications" and the shift to mobile computing will have the biggest impact on the enterprise market. The analyst defined "rich" communications as "communication technologies that help enable and enhance existing business processes".

Elaborating, he said such technologies would include video, VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) and social networking features. These technologies will, in turn, be used to augment existing corporate collaboration tools such as wikis and blogs, he added.

He cited video as one that has already taken off among consumers, with video streaming taking up more than 40 percent of today's mobile bandwidth, and he expects this phenomenon to translate itself into the business arena, too.

Bhat said: "Richer communications are likely to gain rapid adoption among companies, which would change the enterprise communication paradigm."

As for mobile computing, the analyst noted that portable PCs, which refer to tablets, netbooks and notebooks, have already overtaken desktops in the global PC sales in 2010. Portable PCs currently account for 61 percent of the PC market, while desktops clock in at 39 percent. This gap is expected to grow further in 2014 with portable PCs taking up 75 percent and desktops making up the rest of the market, he said.

With regard to tablet devices, Bhat said shipments will hit approximately 15 to 17 million devices in 2011.

He noted that Apple currently holds majority market share with its iPad tablet, but its market share will eventually be chipped away by other tablet makers, such as Dell Computer, Samsung, NEC and Toshiba, as their devices enter the market.

In an earlier report, Yankee Group predicted that global tablet revenues will rise from US$16 billion in 2010 to US$46 billion in 2014. The market analyst added that the Asia-Pacific region will eventually dethrone current market leader North America to dominate tablet revenues, accounting for 58 percent of worldwide sales revenues in 2014.

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