The PC is dead, long live the PC: 1.2bn smart devices to sell by 2013

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Ipad and iphone

We seriously love our smartphones and tablets. So much so that we’ll see a larger install base of smartphones and tablets than PCs by around halfway through next year.

For now tablets and smartphones aren’t likely to replace desktop computers entirely, but the fact that 821-million of them will have been sold by the end of this year is as strong an indication as any that we’re moving toward the post PC era. Or at the very least, a definition of PC not restricted to the desktop.

According to tech research company Gartner, those 821-million smart devices will account for 70% of all devices sold this year.

Growth in the sector isn’t about to stop either. By 2013, 821-million smart devices will have become 1.2-billion, with tablets showing especially significant growth. Gartner reckons that by 2016, even businesses will be buying triple the number of tablets they are now.

“For most businesses smartphones and tablets will not entirely replace PCs, but the ubiquity of smartphones and the increasing popularity of tablets are changing the way businesses look at their device strategies and the way consumers embrace devices,” says Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

If you’re a RIM employee, Gartner’s prediction that “56% of smartphones purchased by businesses in North America and Europe will be Android devices in 2016″, won’t exactly fill you with confidence. The Canadian manufacturer has long been a favourite among businesses because of the encryption it was able to offer them.

While Android and iOS have, until now, been able to offer the same level of security as RIM, that is slowly changing. The perceived “cool” factor of Android and iOS devices may also mean that people are more likely to request that their companies give them the devices they want rather than the ones that offer the best security.

“Today the wide range of brands and price points that the Android ecosystem is offering is winning over users. While Apple remains the heartbeat by which the market moves, Google has rapidly become its archrival,” says Milanesi.

“As businesses are looking for a multi-device strategy and a rich application portfolio it is clear that RIM has a huge challenge ahead in regaining its key presence in the enterprise,” she adds.

While RIM looks likely to lose its business advantage, Microsoft seems set to gain one in the tablet space. Windows 8 will apparently take the number position in the tablet market behind Apple and Android by 2016, with interest coming more from businesses than consumers. “Tablets and convertibles will be the way into businesses for Windows 8″, says Gartner. The research company estimates that the share of Windows 8 tablets and ultramobiles in businesses will reach 39% in 2016.

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