The mobile computing revolution is likely just beginning.
Surging global consumer and business demand for mobile computing will drive mobile-based hardware, software, and network sales—especially in Emerging Markets.
The growth of mobile computing is an example of innovative new technologies creating opportunities and improving efficiency worldwide.
Not too long ago the idea of sending a message from a small, shiny, handheld device was science fiction. Now, even toddlers can easily manipulate these ubiquitous devices. Far from being played out, it's likely this evolution is just kicking off.
For example, over four million "tablet" computers (like the popular skinny touch-screen variety) were sold in Q3 2010. It's forecasted 19.5 million tablet computers will be shipped in 2010, and that number is expected to grow to 154.2 million by 2013—almost an eight-fold gain! This is a device category that hardly existed a year ago. And tablet computers aren't the only exploding mobile technology—smartphones are expected to account for nearly 30% of global phones sales this year.
It's also unlikely the market gets saturated fast. Driving a good portion of mobile-based hardware, software, and network sales will likely be surging consumer and business demand from Emerging Markets. That doesn't mean the developed world won't constitute a big portion of sales as well. But consider: Many residents of fast-growing Emerging Markets access the Internet mostly via a mobile device. Infrastructure in Emerging Markets is more conducive to mobile device adoption than fixed-line broadband. In the US, it's traditionally been the opposite, with most folks accessing the Internet with a broadband connection and a traditional PC.
Traditional PC penetration in Brazil and Russia is 32%, 20% in China, and 5% in India. Compare that with SIM card penetration (a reliable proxy for mobile phone adoption) in Russia, which is 141%, 86% in Brazil, and 40%-60% in India and China. Clearly, in Emerging Markets, mobile is the way. And here's the good news for the global economy: The appetite for mobile devices from the growing consumer middle class in these countries shows no sign of slowing down.
Many take using a mobile computing device for granted, but an incredible amount of research, technology, and infrastructure goes into sending an email from your "CrackBerry" at the airport. Semiconductors, touchscreens comprised of indium tin oxide (a seemingly magic metallic material that conducts electricity and is optically transparent), operating systems, and infrastructure to transfer data are just a few of the many components involved in mobile computing. And meeting the demand for all those things is a boon for the industries and individual firms involved in both the developed and emerging worlds.
Mobile technology isn't likely going to solve all of the world's problems, but the growth of mobile computing is an example of innovative new technologies creating opportunities and improving efficiency worldwide.