idc smart device shipment trendMaking things smart, i.e. making them responsive and able to connect to the Internet, is a trend already well established, but one with its greatest growth still ahead. Mobile computing devices are at the forefront of this wave of change, further evidence of which is offered in a report from IDC.

Shipments of smart connected devices, which in IDC’s report includes PCs, media tablets and smartphones, totaled more than 916 million units, while revenues exceeded $489 billion in 2011, according to data compiled from IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, Mobile Phone Tracker and Media Tablet Tracker services.

“Whether it’s consumers looking for a phone that can tap into several robust ‘app’ ecosystems, businesses looking at deploying tablet devices into their environments, or educational institutions working to update their school’s computer labs; smart, connected, compute-capable devices are playing an increasingly important role in nearly every individual’s life,” said Bob O’Donnell, vice president, Clients and Displays at IDC.

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Looking ahead, IDC forecasts that smart connected device unit shipments will top 1.1 billion worldwide this year and reach 1.84 billion by 2016, more than double 2011’s total. That’s a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.4%.

Rapid growth of smart connected devices has implications across the telecom and IT industry value chains, not the least significant of which has to do with operating systems. IDC foresees a “relatively dramatic shift between 2011 and 2016, with the once-dominant Windows on x-86 platform….slipping from a leading 35.9% share in 2011 down to 25.1% in 2016.”

The number of Android-based devices running ARM CPUs, in contrast, will grow modestly from 29.4% in 2011 to lead the market with a 31.1% share by 2016, according to IDC’s forecast. Apple iOS devices will increase their market share from 14.6% to 17.3% over this period.

With the highest population and population densities in the world, smartphone shipments will grow in Asia-Pacific countries, IDC adds. “Smartphone growth will be driven by Asia/Pacific countries, especially China, where mobile operators are subsidizing the purchase of 3G smartphones, thus increasing the total addressable market. In many if not all instances, the smartphone will be the primary connection to the Internet,” said Will Stofega, program director, Mobile Phone Technologies and Trends. “In countries where devices are not subsidized by the mobile operators, competitive and component-based pricing will help drive volume.”

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