Mobile still vital to Canada’s 2012 growth: IDC

With more Canadians buying smart phones than ever before, the number of mobile devices will reach epic proportions, according to one of the country’s biggest research firms.

Some $6 billion will be spent on mobile devices in 2012, IDC Canada said Thursday in revealing predictions for the technology industry in 2012.

“By the end of 2012 we expect the install base of smart phones to be equal to portable PCs,” said Lars Goransson, group vice-president and general manager at IDC Canada. “Mobile devices account for less than 15 per cent of spending in Canada, but (also) a third of spending growth.”

IDC also predicts that the mobile platform will begin truly eclipse the PC in 2012 in terms of adoption and programming focus. Tony Olvet, group vice-president of research, attributed this call to growing adoption of the HTML5 environment which will lead to “more cross-pollination of innovation.” He also said that voice commands will see the same sort of cross-platform mass adoption as touch did previously and that the Android phone selection will be bolstered by a variety of new devices on both the super phone and budget end of the spectrum.

Olvet also said that, because of this adoption and focus on mobile, there will be increased focus by Canadian business in supporting mobile payments and online integration in brick and mortar shops. As a way to combat the genesis of the augmented reality phenomenon, stores will begin implementing more contextual coupon programs of their own design. “Brick and mortar retailers will fight scan and scram with in-store offer management mobile apps,” he said.

The predictions also suggest there will be for more upheaval in the Canadian cellular industry thanks to new players bidding for mobile spectrum in upcoming auctions,. “The election of the (majority) Harper government will lead the way to a (revising) of the foreign ownership legislation,” said Olvet.

Both Liberal and Conservative governments have promised to overhaul the foreign ownership restrictions in the Telecommunications Act, which limit non-Canadians to owning about 46 per cent directly and indirectly of a Canadian wired or wireless carrier.

The Harper government even narrowed it down to three options for public review. Since then, however, the government has said it can’t change the law until it decides who will be eligible to buy spectrum in the upcoming 700 MHz auction. That auction will be hotly-contested.

There’s little doubt the Harper government wants to liberalize the foreign ownership restrictions, but the question is how far. One option is to allow carriers with a small percentage of the market to sell up to 49 per cent of their companies to non-Canadians. Another is to take off all restrictions on these carriers. A third option is to take controls off completely.

Elsewhere, IDC also believes that pure play offshore vendors in Canada will break a billion dollars with at least five pure plays each bringing in a hundred million each. Goransson said that “offshoring estimates 14.3 per cent growth for 2012 through 2015.”


It also thinks 2012 will see more gains in cloud application development, including a lot of traditional on-premise software makers acquiring cloud specialists. “The land grab is underway,” Olvet said. This will lead, in part, to a new breed of channel partner for 2012, something IDC dubbed “partner 2.0”. “Cloud, mobility, economics of channel, shifting skill demands and customer confusion will drive this,” he said. “Forty-seven per cent of partners believe cloud computing is forcing a wholesale change in their business model.”


Finally, IDC forsees a further refinement in analytics 2012, having reached its “moneyball moment,” and that “social-lytics” — analytics derived from social media — will transcend hype and become profitable. “The window for succeeding through analytics is a fast moving one,” Olvet said. “(It) needs to move beyond analysts and the back office…to the front-line staff, in the store, in the field.” Now that analytics are being adopted en masse, it will take a full company-wide implementation to maintain the edge they provide.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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