Nearly a Billion Smart Devices Last Year, 2 Billion By 2016

By James Burchill

The International Data Corporation out of Framingham, Massachusetts just released information on smart connected devices for last year along with predicted growth patterns for them through to 2016 (four years). ‘Smart connected’ means any device capable of running applications and of connecting to the Internet. This includes smart phones, tablets, and other portable computing items.

In 2011, says IDC, more than 916 million units were shipped, making for about $489 billion in sales for the year. These numbers are derived from three other IDC quarterly surveys conducted, including the Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, Mobile Phone Tracker, and Media Tablet Tracker.

With those strong numbers, IDC expects unit shipments to continue growing, topping 1.1 billion next year and hitting 1.84 billion units – nearly two billion – by 2016. That’s double 2011′s numbers. That’s a lot of smart phones, folks. Interestingly, IDC can extrapolate growth rates for individual device types, giving numbers for how fast Apple, Android, and Windows will grow in these genres.

The Growth of Apple

Interestingly, Apple’s iOS devices are expected to grow from their current share of about 14.6% of the market to roughly 17.3% of the market in 2016. This will be the largest gain of the market, mostly coming out of Windows devices, but will still not topple Android – through it will pass the halfway point. Strangely, although iOS devices tend to be the most expensive and to have the highest costs associated with them in terms of applications (apps) and hardware, they are also some of the more popular because the apps available on them tend to be more professional, since the market’s payoff for developers is generally higher than that for other platforms.

The Downfall of Windows

Windows devices will continue in their decline, with popular market share dropping from 35.9% at current to 25.1% in 2016. This huge drop will be almost entirely due to Windows holding little share of the portable market, which is the fastest-growing, and because many people own multiple devices – on average only one of which is a Microsoft-based one.

Soon, as devices continue to proliferate in emerging markets like Asia, the average will be less than one Microsoft-based (Windows) product as portables become the most common way to access and interact with the Internet.

Meanwhile, Android Dominates

As this market shakeup happens, Android will continue to dominate, growing from 29.4% now to 31.1% in 2016, gaining the market lead. While the growth will be more modest, the attention given as Android climbs to the top will be big news. This will almost entirely be because of the low costs and thus higher proliferation these devices have continued moving forward with.

So.. What Does This Mean?

For most of us, it means that portable devices are going to dominate over non-portables. We’re moving into a world where most people accessing the Internet are not doing so through traditional desktop or notebook computers. They’re going online with smart phones, tablets, etc. That means marketing online will continue to morph towards a small screen, simpler-interface experience and away from today’s multi-tiered menu, mouse-centric designs.

Are you mobile-ready yet?

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James Burchill shows individuals and companies how to profit from the innovative use of Internet technologies, strategic content and social media marketing.  You can find out more at and you can subscribe to his J-List to get over 40 articles, reports and advice on Internet Marketing today.

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