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As new iPad debuts, reports shed light on surging mobile market 

By Jeff Drew 
March 12 2012

As Apple unveiled its new iPad to much fanfare last week, recent reports quietly illustrated how quickly the tablet market has grown, how fast mobile data traffic is expected to climb over the next few years – and how many companies consider mobile technologies for employees to be their most important IT investment.

A comScore report found that, while smartphones continue to represent the leading edge of the mobile revolution, tablets such as the iPad are quickly gaining ground. Tablet use in the United States soared to more than 40 million devices from the introduction of the original iPad in March 2010 to the end of 2011. It took smartphones seven years to reach the 40 million mark.
 
Tablets are not taking the place of laptops or smartphones. But they are being added to a multi-device approach to accessing internet content, according to comScore. At the end of 2011, nearly 15% of US mobile phone users also had tablets.

Look for that percentage to increase.

Cisco predicts 18-fold jump in mobile traffic

Cisco Systems, the world’s largest supplier of networking equipment essential for internet and wireless traffic, found that global mobile data traffic experienced 2.3-fold growth in 2011 – the fourth straight year that mobile data traffic more than doubled, according to Cisco’s “Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2011–2016”.

Cisco expects that pace to increase over the next few years. The company foresees an 18-fold increase in mobile traffic between 2011 and 2016. Fuelling that growth will be the remarkably rapid proliferation of smartphones and tablets. Cisco projects that by the end of 2012 the number of mobile-connected devices will surpass the number of people on earth. By 2016, Cisco predicts, there will be 10 billion mobile devices compared to a world population of 7.3 billion.

Those devices will be connecting to the internet at increasingly faster speeds, Cisco says. The company forecasts that mobile connection speeds will increase nine-fold over the next few years, jumping from 189 kilobytes per second in 2011 to 2.9 megabits per second in 2016.

Apple’s addition of 4G capabilities to the new iPad will help to drive that traffic increase. While only 6% of mobile devices will connect via 4G in 2016, 36% of mobile traffic will come over the faster 4G networks, Cisco reports. Cisco also predicts that two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic in 2016 will be video and that smartphone traffic will be 50 times higher in 2016 than it is today.

PwC: Companies place top IT priority on mobile tech for employees

With those types of predictions in the marketplace, it should be no surprise that “mobile technologies for employees” ranks as the top corporate IT investment priority in PwC’s fourth annual digital IQ survey, “Raising Your Digital IQ”. Of the nearly 500 US business and technology executives who participated in the poll, 59% said that their companies are currently investing in mobile technologies for employees. Of the top-performing companies in the survey, 66% were investing in mobile technologies for employees.

Whereas corporations once had a technology advantage with higher levels of IT infrastructure and staff, not to mention company-issued BlackBerrys, the proliferation of mobile devices at the consumer level and the access to technology provided by cloud computing have pushed the edge of a company’s technology footprint beyond the reach of an internally focused IT team, PwC reported. With that in mind, data security ranked as the second-highest IT spending priority, with 57% of “top performers” and 51% of all other executives surveyed saying their companies are investing in that area.

PwC, formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers, identified top performers as those that reported at least 5% revenue growth over the preceding 12 months and that also reported annual revenue, growth, profitability and innovation among the top quartile of the companies surveyed.

The report also found that top performers were more likely to have a mobile strategy that engages customers and employees, as evidenced by two-thirds of top performers interacting with customers frequently over mobile devices, compared with 45% of the other companies surveyed.

Also, while half of top performers plan to invest more than $1 million in mobile technology in 2012, only 29% of the rest plan to do so. Top performers also were 17 percentage points (41% to 24%) more likely to see a significant benefit from social media efforts and 14 percentage points (40% to 26%) more likely to expect their use of social media to increase.

In addition, top performers were more likely to spend more than $1 million on each of the following in 2012: private cloud applications (58% to 39%), public cloud applications (52% to 34%) and public cloud infrastructure (44% to 35%).

Jeff Drew (jdrew@aicpa.org) is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.

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