Monday, October 31, 2011

A “Marriage Made in Heaven”: Mobile Devices Meet the Mobile Cloud

The huge popularity and rapid growth of smartphones over the past couple of years has been truly breathtaking. At the same time, cloud computing has become the new way of delivering—and charging for—IT services and functionality.

While research has been conducted on mobile and cloud computing as separate trends, to date very little data has existed on the impact of mobility and cloud together—especially with regards to the impact on devices. To understand this dynamic market better, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) surveyed 1,016 U.S. mobile users to understand their current and future needs with regard to the mobile cloud.

Findings from the research about mobile devices provide important insights for SPs. For example:
·        Almost half (45 percent) of survey respondents already have smartphones. Most remarkable, the survey revealed that up to 60 percent of U.S. mobile phone subscribers could be smartphone users by the end of 2013.
·        Smartphone owners are selecting their devices primarily to acquire the best functionality. Fifty percent of smartphone respondents indicated that device functionality is their key buying criteria, followed by brand and ease of use.
·        Smartphone users are much more comfortable using cloud services than non-smartphone users. Given smartphone users’ demographic profile and technological sophistication, it is probably no surprise they are already big consumers of cloud-based services in the traditional PC world.
·        Smartphone users are particularly excited about the opportunity to move unique mobile-specific features and capabilities to the cloud. They especially want to combine the microphone and speaker capabilities of their devices for speech recognition (75 percent over the next one to two years).
·        Smartphone users are also interested in a thin-client device that would allow them to access all of their content and smartphone functionality from the cloud. Similarly, smartphone users were interested in a mobile-cloud-based virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) service that would allow them to arrange a computer desktop to reflect their personal preferences and view the same configuration on any mobile (or other) device.

Mobile operators are well positioned to prosper from the mobile cloud. On average, respondents rated their level of satisfaction with the overall mobile experience a 7.8 out of 10. By studying the findings and implementing the recommendations described in this paper, SPs can benefit by understanding the size of the opportunity, developing strategies for growth, and differentiating their offerings. Note: This is one in a series of papers that evaluate the Cisco IBSG survey results from four distinct perspectives: overview, business users, consumers, and devices (this paper).

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