Apple 2.0

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IDC: 300,000 iPhone apps before 2011

December 3, 2009: 6:23 AM ET

A research firm looks into the near future and sees ... an Apple "iPad" next year

Apple (AAPL) figures prominently in IDC's top 10 predictions for the coming year, released Thursday and available here (registration required). The relevant bullet points:

  • The "iPad" will finally arrive. Last year, we predicted that we would not see the then-rumored Apple tablet in 2009. This year, however, we predict that Apple will finally introduce this new device family, which is more of an oversized (8in., 10in.) iPod Touch than a downsized Mac — and if you look at the developer energy around the iPhone/Touch platform, this should be no surprise at all. This prediction is a no-brainer: there's enormous appeal in sizing up the iPhone/Touch for a variety of applications and activities that people already use those devices for but would jump at the chance to have a larger screen — watching videos/movies, reading books/magazines/newspapers (it would take a big bite from the Kindle), surfing the Web, videophone, and online gaming. Look for Apple's "iPad" by year-end 2010. Oh, and don't be surprised to see Microsoft also announce its own device in this space. ... One big question for 2010 is which way Apple will go with 3G connectivity for the iPad — private labeling a wireless carrier's network as "AppleNet" or simply merchandising carriers' wireless subscriptions through the iTunes store.

  • Over 1 billion mobile devices will access the Internet in 2010. IDC predicts that, for the first time, there will be over 1 billion mobile devices accessing the Internet by year-end, gaining quickly on the 1.3 billion PCs accessing the Internet (the former are growing at 2.5 times the rate of the latter). The most strategic portion of these mobile devices are converged mobile devices (aka smartphones), including Apple's iPhone, RIM's BlackBerry, and Nokia's smartphone lineup, as well as the growing number of phones running Microsoft's Windows Mobile, Google's Android, and Symbian^1 (notably Nokia). Over 200 million of these devices — which are distinguished by their ability to run third-party applications — will ship in 2010, representing 16% of the market; we predict that by 2013, they will account for over 20%. Of course, it wouldn't be the IT industry if price points didn't keep coming down: look for more sub-$150 smartphones to come on the scene in 2010, accelerating the market.
  • Developer — and application — momentum will continue to shift dramatically to mobile devices. At least as important as the number of mobile devices are the frenzied developer energy and application volume building around mobile platforms — most obviously, but by no means exclusively, around the iPhone. There are now over 100,000 iPhone apps listed on Apple's iTunes store, up from 10,000 a year ago — that's an annual growth rate of 900%. As a point of comparison, there are on the order of 10,000 Windows PC applications listed on Microsoft's Windows 7 compatibility Web site. We predict at least 300,000 iPhone applications by the end of 2010, many of the new apps coming from well-known Global 2000 business and consumer brands — and attracting more consumers and businesspeople to these platforms as their most commonly and heavily used clients.

For a summary of the rest of the document, and quotes from an interview with IDC chief analyst Frank Gens, see Steve Lohr's piece in today's New York Times.

Below: An IDC-produced video of Gens describing the highlights of his findings.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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