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Worldwide Spending on Mobile Solutions Forecast to Be More Than $1.6 Trillion in 2018, According to New IDC Spending Guide

Worldwide spending on mobility solutions is forecast to grow 3.2% year over year in 2018, reaching more than $1.6 trillion, according to a new Worldwide Semiannual Mobility Spending Guide from International Data Corporation (IDC). This growth is expected to continue through 2021 with spending on mobility-related hardware, software, and services surpassing $1.7 trillion as the market achieves a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.8%.

"The new mobility use cases and technology adoption in enterprises is driving growth in all three facets of the market, from devices to software and services," said Phil Hochmuth, program director, Enterprise Mobility. "As device capabilities continue to evolve with augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI), and with 5G networks on the near horizon, technology choices for mobile technology buyers will become increasingly complex and critical to business success."

Mobility services will be the largest technology category throughout the 2016-2021 forecast period, accounting for nearly 60% of overall mobility spending and surpassing $1 trillion in 2021. The category is dominated by mobile connectivity services, which will deliver more than 90% of all mobility services spending. However, enterprise mobility services, which are focused on the planning, implementation, operation, and maintenance and support of mobile strategies, applications, and devices or the final consumption of services through a mobile device, will see notable spending growth with a five-year CAGR of 15.0%.

Hardware will be the second largest technology category with spending forecast to reach nearly $675 billion in 2021. Smartphones will account for roughly 75% of all hardware spending throughout the forecast as consumers upgrade and refresh their mobile phones and enterprises equip their workforce with handheld devices that can run mobile apps and communicate in real time. While notebooks will see modest spending growth (1.5% CAGR) throughout the forecast, tablets are expected to experience a decline (-1.9% CAGR).

Despite being the smallest technology category, software will see strong spending growth (14.7% CAGR) over the five-year forecast. Mobile enterprise applications will be the largest segment of mobile software spending, growing to $7.1 billion in 2021. Businesses will also increase their development efforts with mobile application development platforms experiencing a five-year CAGR of 19.5%. However, all four software segments, including mobile enterprise security and enterprise mobility management, are forecast to deliver double-digit five-year CAGRs.

Consumers will provide more than 70% of total mobility spending throughout the forecast with most of this spending – more than $1 trillion per year – going toward mobile connectivity services and smartphones combined. Consumer spending is also forecast to slow considerably starting in 2019 when annual growth rates dip below 1%, contributing to a five-year CAGR of 1.6%.

The industry that will see the largest spending on mobility solutions in 2018 (nearly $45 billion) is professional services, followed by banking ($43 billion), discrete manufacturing ($38 billion), and retail ($32 billion). In all four cases, a majority of the spending will go to mobile connectivity services and devices, primarily smartphones and notebook PCs. Enterprise mobility services will also be a significant spending category as these industries implement and execute their mobile strategies. The banking and discrete manufacturing industries will each invest more than $1 billion in mobile enterprise applications and mobile application development platforms (combined) in 2018. The professional services industry will experience the fastest spending growth over the forecast period (7.0% CAGR), followed by the telecommunications and utilities industries (each with a 6.9% CAGR).

"Organizations of all sizes and from all industries are enjoying the benefits of mobile solutions," said Jessica Goepfert, program vice president, Customer Insights & Analysis. "In industries further along the adoption curve, mobility projects incorporate other transformational elements such as IoT, cloud and big data to challenge – and change – the status quo. Even smaller scale mobility solutions are expanding from their initial single-function footprint to empower and enable workers across the enterprise. For instance, in transportation, airplane pilots may have been the initial target users of mobile devices and applications, whereas now we see mobile devices in the hands of customer service agents, baggage handlers, mechanics, and other transportation employees. So long as organizations strive to gain efficiencies and deliver a superior customer experience, we expect to see continued interest, adoption, spending, and growth of mobility solutions."

The United States and China will each account for around 20% of all mobility spending throughout the forecast, making these the two largest geographic markets. Western Europe and Asia/Pacific (excluding China and Japan) will be the next largest regions in terms of overall mobility spending. The countries that will see the fastest growth in mobility spending over the five-year forecast period will be the Philippines (8/1% CAGR), India (7.4% CAGR), and Peru (7.1% CAGR).

From a company size perspective, large and very large businesses (500-999 employees and 1000+ employees, respectively) combined will account for nearly $190 billion in mobility spending in 2018, growing to nearly $230 billion in 2021. The small business sector (10-99 employees) will grow to more than $100 billion in 2021 while medium size businesses (100-499 employees) will surpass $90 billion in 2021. The small office market (1-9 employees) will invest $78 billion in mobility solutions in 2021.

IDC's Worldwide Semiannual Mobility Spending Guide is designed to address the needs of technology organizations assessing the mobile opportunity by country, industry, and company size perspective. The spending guide provides subscribers with spending data on ten technology categories across 19 industries, five company size bands, and 53 countries. Unlike any other research in the industry, the comprehensive spending guide can help IT decision makers to clearly understand the industry-specific scope and direction of mobility spending today and over the next five years.

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