As users shift from desktop PCs and laptops to tablets and smartphones as their main computer, the IT supply chain will shift from stand-alone devices with expandable local memory to lighter mobile platforms that dovetail with novel new cloud services.
Ultrabooks will capture 43 percent of global notebook PC shipments in 2015, up from 2 percent in 2011 and 13 percent in 2012, according to IHS iSuppli.
Manufacturers of semiconductors, storage devices, displays, wireless connectivity and manufactured electronics are scrambling to keep up with the massive shift from desktop and laptop computers to smartphones and tablets, according to IHS iSuppli (El Segundo, Calif.), which predicted 10 major transformations for 2012.
1) Cloud Services to Dominate: Just as Apple seems to have anticipated first the smartphone and then the tablet markets with its iPhone and iPad, respectively, Apple's iCloud seems to have anticipated a mass migration to cloud-based services that enable small mobile devices to outperform traditional desktop and laptop PCs. The devices that bundle the most desirable cloud services will win in 2012, according to IHS iSuppli.
2) Generation Gap Widening: Younger users are already increasingly turning to smartphones and tablets as their main computing device, a trend that IHS iSuppli predicts will expand to older age groups until mobile devices become the predominant method of accessing the Internet.
3) Wireless Business Models Reign: As users increasingly access the Internet from their mobile devices, novel new business models that capitalize on ubiquitous wireless connectivity will emerge. Examples include buying devices that offer their favorite sports live, rather than on TV, to coupon and other buying services that aggregate savings opportunities.
4) LTE to Mushroom: As buyers clamor for faster connections to their cloud-based services, the 4G wireless standard called Long-Term Evolution (LTE) will finally begin to dominate, according to IHS iSuppli, which predicts that LTE subscribers will grow from 12 million in 2011 to over 60 million by the end of 2012.
5) ODMs Shifting to Clouds, Too: Today, the majority of laptop computers are actually manufactured by contractors called original device manufacturers (ODMs), who in 2012 will begin shifting their business to making tablets and the cloud-based servers to which they connect.
6) Intel Losing to ARM: As users shift to less expensive computing devices like smartphones and tablets—as opposed to desktop and laptop PCs—the x86-based processors made by Intel will increasingly lose ground to cheaper, lower power processors licensed from ARM. In 2012 Windows 8 will accelerate this trend by running on ARM as well as x86. IHS iSuppli predicts that ARM-based PCs will rise from just 3 percent in 2012 to more than 22 percent by 2015.
7) Ultrabook Saves Intel's Bacon: Intel's ultrabook specification was already anticipated by Apple in its line of MacBook Air computers. In 2102, a half-dozen traditional laptop makers turn to making MacBook Air-like ultrabooks running Windows 8, ditching the optical drive, slimming down with flash instead of hard disks and extending the battery life. IHS iSuppli predicts that Intel-based ultrabooks will soar from less from 29 million units in 2012 to over 136 million units by 2015.
8) Memory Shifts to Flash: Most smartphones, tablets and ultrabooks are too small and lightweight for the memory slots necessary for DRAM upgrades. This is depressing sales of memory upgrades. Instead, the devices will gobble up high-performance flash memories both for hard-disk replacement and as caches to speed up disk access. IHS iSuppli predicts that flash-based solid-state drives for cache in ultrabooks will rise from half a million in 2011 to over 22 million in 2012.
9) Hard Disk Drives Shrink to Grow: The hard-disk drive (HDD) market is dangling from a thread regarding the shift to smaller mobile computers. To keep pace, HDDs will have to slim down from 9.5 millimeters in 2011 to 7 millimeters in 2012, and eventually to 5 millimeters in order to stay competitive.
10) Higher-Fidelity but Smaller Screens: Just as Apple anticipated the smartphone, tablet and ultrabook, the company has also anticipated a move to higher-fidelity, but smaller displays, with its Retina display for the iPhone and iPod Touch.