March 28, 2012 – The entire span of what market researcher IDC calls smart connected devices saw shipments of more than 916 million units and revenues of greater than $489 billion in 2011, an analyst at the firm says.

Moreover, unit shipments of PCs, media tablets and smartphone revenues and sales will surpass 1.1 billion this year and 1.84 billion by 2015, more than double last year's total.

IDC has a long history of reporting on PC and smart phone numbers. For the last year and a half, tablet devices have been added to the company's breakouts and those numbers are also published individually.

But Bob O'Donnell, VP of Clients and Displays at IDC, says there was a feeling that a multi-device era had arrived and needed its own view of the world.

"Here I am talking to you, I'm staring at my smartphone connected to my notebook and my tablet is in my bag," O'Donnell says. "I'm a classic example of having multiple things that are compute capable, all kinds of things that can run apps of one sort or another."

The result is a kind of aggregate index of non-commercial, non-game only platforms that IDC will continue to publish going forward.

O'Donnell says there was an extended debate within IDC over how to name the broader category that included "compute capable" before landing with "smart connected devices." 

The big picture is pretty healthy, we're going to double in the next five years and that's a big story to tell. It puts it in the context of, let's not look at one thing versus something else, let's check the overall big picture. Smart phones make up the largest percentage in number of units, though PCs are the largest percent in terms of revenue generate.

IDC also sees a broader impact on the developer landscape. "Because of the way smartphones impact operating systems and platforms and the applications developers need to work on, the field is very diverse," says O'Donnell. "That will continue to be the case, so if you're developing solutions you will have to think about a lot of platforms going forward."

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