mobile_appsWireless devices, services and mobile application usage are all on the rise in government, with smartphones and mobile services growing fastest, according to a new report from IDC Government Insights. Tablet usage will come on strong, growing at double-digit rates and reaching local government levels “in a big way by 2017,” according to “Business Strategy: Government Mobility Forecast, 2014-2017 – A Rising Tide of Devices and Services.”

Growing use of mobile devices, services and applications in government is being driven both from the top down and from the bottom up, IDC highlights.

Reaching critical mass, growth in wireless devices, services, and applications will be highest from 2013 to 2015, IDC forecasts. Along with tablets, wireless data services will grow at double-digit rates through 2016 while growth in traditional “airless voice traffic” will slow.

Among the report’s key takeaways:

  • Smartphones, tablets, and eReaders make up just 5% of the government IT market. This gives them substantial growth potential. Tablets in particular will grow at double-digit rates for the next three years.
  • Government smartphone growth is expected to peak in 2016, and will see slight negative growth beyond that.
  • To expand their role in the mobile marketplace, many vendors are looking to provide expertise, consultation, and best practices to help government agencies understand the best way to deploy mobile solutions, including the operation of app stores and access control.
  • From a services/connectivity standpoint, the wireless voice market will decline by a -6.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). However, wireless data services should grow by a CAGR of 10.2% during this same time period.
  • Software companies who focus on the mobile market need to be willing to offer hosted versions of their applications. Government agencies seek a range of ownership/subscription choices.
  • In general, tablet and services/connectivity is expected to grow at the local government level over the next few years, due to local demand for inspections, licensing, case management, and more.

“Over the past few years, mobile hardware and associated mobile solutions have been some of the fastest growing areas within government computing. However, mobile growth is starting to level out,” IDC Government Insights research director Shawn McCarthy was quoted in a press release. “The one bright spot by 2017 will be state governments, where we expect to see growth of near 8% for eReaders in 2017, thanks to revived tax bases, planned equipment replacement cycles, and more workers who conduct their job functions out of the office.”