Smart devices will be the norm of the future with three dominant platforms - Apple's iOS, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows - all competing to meet the mobile computing demands of general and business consumers, a new report said.
Global research firm Gartner defined smart devices on its report as smartphones and tablet computers, which to date have largely replaced desktops and laptops as the preferred computing tools.
The migration is presently dominated by consumers whose continuing fascination with what mobile gadgets can deliver would lead to total sales of 821 million smartphones and tablets, Gartner said, with a significant portion due to increasing interest by business to start integrating smart gadgets on their operations.
By the end of this year alone, businesses would have acquired some 13 million units for usage of their employees, the report said, noting too that mobile devices will account for 70 per cent of all computing machines that will fly off store shelves in the entire 12 months of 2012.
And by the following year, around 1.2 billon smart devices will be pushed out by global manufacturers, with again the business sector picking up the pace in involving smartphones and tablets on the manner they operate, Gartner said.
"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," PC Magazine reported Gartner vice president Carolina Milanesi as saying in a statement.
Up to 40 per cent of the international labour sector is expected to go mobile by 2016, leading to sale of 53 million tablets.
By that time, "two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone, and 40 per cent of the workforce will be mobile," Ms Milanesi said.
Over the next four years, it is expected too that Google will continue its march as the number mobile ecosystem, ending with a global smartphone share of 34 per cent in 2012 and ramping it up to 56 per cent by 2016.
"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," the Australian Associated Press (AAP) quoted Ms Milanesi as saying on the Gartner report.
Microsoft would have gained considerable at around that time, Gartner said, on the back of Windows-powered tablets and convertibles, which "will be the way into businesses for Windows 8."
Microsoft-centric machines are expected to control 39 per cent of mobile business operations by 2016, the Gartner report said.