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Mobile trend will push phone, tablet ownership past PCs in 2014: IDC Canada

TORONTO - 2014 will be the year of mobile, as cellphone and tablet ownership is set to surpass the PC market, according to analysts at research firm IDC Canada.

The company has released its annual list of predictions for the year ahead and foresees the number of mobile devices used in Canada and abroad officially overtaking the number of desktop and laptop computers.

"Without a doubt the mobile device has forever changed the computing landscape ... we see multiple devices rather than one single device becoming the norm in business and also at home," said group vice president Tony Olvet.

"We are right now at the cusp of the great inflection point when tablets and smartphones together outnumber the install base of PCs."

Manufacturers won't stop selling PCs, of course, but IDC predicts they'll try to make them more mobile-like.

"In terms of user interface, we expect to see a big spike in touch-enabled PCs, from just 3.7 per cent of PCs shipped in the first quarter of this year growing to about 24 per cent by the end of 2014 — that's a huge increase," said Olvet.

Trends in the consumer mobile market are also expected to ripple into the workplace. An IDC survey of IT managers revealed 30 per cent of employees are expected to be using their own tablets at work in 2014.

The growing popularity of Google Android phones among consumers will also lead to more of the devices being handed out by employers, Olvet said. About 31 per cent of the companies IDC surveyed suggested they were already supporting Android phones in 2013, up almost 50 per cent from 2012, and another 30 per cent increase may be in the cards for 2014.

Other trends identified by IDC include growth in the so-called Internet of Things — bringing web connectivity to more and more devices — increased cloud computing, and a continued push on mobile payments, although IDC doesn't believe consumers are demanding the technology yet. Only about 20 per cent of consumers told IDC they were interested in mobile payments.

On Thursday, Tim Hortons announced that customers can start using a BlackBerry 10, iPhone or Google Android device to make payments at some stores.

Banks and other financial companies will also continue to push mobile wallet solutions, according to IDC Canada general manager and group vice president Lars Goransson.

"Multiple offerings will cause confusion and will initially provide few benefits to incentivize users and we expect only limited take up in 2014," Goransson said.

The wearable technology trend is also expected to be pushed hard to consumers in 2014 but not many will take it up, IDC predicts.

While 15 per cent of Canadian consumers said in a fall survey that they had "very high interest" in smart watches — and nearly 40 per cent of males between 13 and 17 said they wanted one — even a long-rumoured Apple smart watch wouldn't be an immediate mass market hit, Goransson said.

"On the assumption that Apple also launches a (smart watch) in 2014, IDC forecasts that by year end less than two per cent of Canadians will be sporting a smart watch," he said.

"But this will grow very rapidly to more than 15 per cent by 2017."

The Canadian Press

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