Tablet Growth Shows No Sign of Abating

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

A Snapshot of Tablets @ Work

The biggest tech news of the week clearly was the release by Samsung of the Galaxy S4. The introduction was held in New York City on the evening of March 14. There is a tremendous amount of good coverage. Check out Forbes and The New York Times, for instance. The two organizations certainly had front-row seats at what was said to be a crowded event at Radio City Music Hall.

There are two parallel stories. One, of course, is the relative merits of the device. The other – one IT Business Edge has been tracking closely – is the impact that the new phone will have on the building clash of titans between Samsung and Apple. Two things are clear: This will be an ongoing affair and life is changing for Apple, even in a best-case scenario.

This week is no different than many weeks of the past couple of years in that a lot of attention is being paid to tablets. On Tuesday, ABI Research said that tablet apps will generate $8.8 billion of revenue this year, which is more than half of the $16.4 billion expected from smartphone apps. Of the combined total – the total app market – the firm found, 65 percent will be generated by Apple iOS, 27 percent from Android and 8 percent by other platforms.

That only is part of the story, however. The other takeaway is that ABI sees both the size of the app market and tablets’ piece of the pie inexorably rising:

As part of a main trend, tablet apps will steadily increase their share of the market over the coming years, to an extent that they will, in 2017, nearly match the smartphone application revenues and surpass them in 2018, when the combined revenue base will reach $92 billion.

Tuesday also was the day that Juniper Research released a study that found online banking will transition during the next four years from PCs to tablets. The findings were that almost 200 million people – about 19 percent of total mobile banking customers – will do so on tablets in 2017. Nine percent are doing so this year, the firm said.

There is life beyond tablets, of course. Vertical Systems Group released research on Monday that said the growth of fiber connectivity – the key to Carrier Ethernet and other sophisticated services -- is continuing to grow. The firm found that 36.1 percent of commercial buildings in the United States are served by fiber.

Though that still is well less than half, it is almost four times the 10.9 percent that were served by glass in 2004. The increases are expected to parallel the growth in demanding applications such as video distribution, mobile backhaul and high-speed data center operations.

A great harbinger of things to come can be seen in a study released Monday by IHS Screen Digest. The firm found that multimedia home gateway penetration will increase by a factor of more than 100 between 2011 and 2015.

The rapid rise is very important to the industry segment itself, of course. In the bigger picture, however, it is no less important: The transition from older technology to multimedia home gateways (MHGs) is a clear indication that Internet protocol (IP) networking is still ascendant. The key is that MHGs rely on IP to distribute video. Daniel Simmons, the senior principal analyst at IHS and lead author of the report, suggests that MHGs will drive IP video. He points to the significance of this in a quote in the press release:

With MHGs, cable and satellite operators can utilize the efficiency of broadcast television to provide advanced services and content to all kinds of IP-connectable devices, including today’s increasingly popular mobile devices.

The bottom line is that an increase in MHGs almost certainly portends an increase in IP video and a tremendous number of related services. That certainly is not a surprise – but it is worthy of note.

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