Stop the (Networking) World — I Want to Get Off

CarouselFor the networking industry, things continue to get interesting, and for many, stopping this unrelenting change — or giving up — may be an attractive (if unrealistic) option. Between mobility, the Internet of Things/Everything and Shadow IT/CIO vs CMO vs CDO, change is running rampant and it seems like networking is juking and jiving to avoid being roadkill on the information highway.

According to a recent report from Gartner, the number of mobile app store downloads will almost double this year to 102 billion, up from 2012’s 64 billion. Free apps will account for 91% of total downloads, but that by 2017, in-app purchases (IAPs) will account for 48% of app store revenue.

“We expect strong growth in downloads through 2014, but growth is forecast to slow down a bit in later years,” said Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner. “The average downloads per device should be high in early years as users get new devices and discover the apps they like. Over time they accumulate a portfolio of apps they like and stick to, so there will be moderate numbers of downloads in the later years.”

It’s no surprise to IDC that mobile app downloads are skyrocketing: smartphone shipments are expected to surpass 1 billion units for the first time in a single year. Vendors are now forecast to ship more than 1.8 billion mobile phones this year, growing to over 2.3 billion mobile phones in 2017.

“Two years ago, the worldwide smartphone market flirted with shipping half a billion units for the first time — to double that in just two years highlights the ubiquity that smartphones have achieved,” said Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team. “The smartphone has gone from being a cutting-edge communications tool to becoming an essential component in the everyday lives of billions of consumers.”

Personal connectivity is growing, but there is similar growth happening with connected things. IDC reports that the Internet of Things (IoT) technology and services spending will generate revenues of $8.9 trillion by 2020, almost double the $4.8 trillion of 2012.

“The momentum of the Internet of Things is driven by a number of factors. There is no doubt that business and consumer demand exists and will continue to expand for IoT solutions,” said Vernon Turner, Senior Vice President of IDC’s Enterprise Infrastructure, Consumer, Network, Telecom, and Sustainability Research. “I expect the current IoT use cases are just the tip of the iceberg.”

According to Gartner, in 2009, there were 2.5 billion connected devices with unique IP addresses to the Internet, most of these were devices people carry such as cell phones and PCs. In 2020, there will be up to 30 billion devices connected with unique IP addresses, most of which will be products.

However, while networking struggles to deal with the ongoing avalanche of devices, apps, and data, behind the scenes there is a battle among the corporate suits. There is a paradigm shift taking place, with more than 60% of enterprise technology projects funded by business rather than IT, said IDC. “The link between technology and business results has never been greater and is shifting the buying center away from IT and towards the business,” said Eileen Smith, Program Manager of IDC’s Global Technology and Industry Research Organization.

While IDC reports that IT is partnering more closely with its business colleagues, the cost of screwing up can be lethally high. Digital business incompetence will cause 25% of businesses to lose competitive ranking by 2017, according to Gartner. “The next decade will move beyond the notion of using technology to automate businesses and toward positioning technology as revenue builder, market maker, and customer finder,” said Diane Morello, managing vice president at Gartner.

Maybe poet T.S. Eliot had it right: “This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper.”

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons