The number of mobile device users tapping cloud computing services is a tiny fraction of the overall mobile market today, but just wait. Over the next five years, ABI Research predicts there will be almost a billion subscribers to mobile cloud services, up from only 42.8 million in 2008.
Or put another way, ABI Research says in its just-released Mobile Cloud Computing study that the 1.1 percent of all mobile subscribers using cloud computing services today will jump to almost 19 percent (just over 998 million) by 2014.
And what’s going to power such a rapid uptick? The research firm thinks in large part it will be location-based services.
“From 2008 through 2010, subscriber numbers will be driven by location-enabled services, particularly navigation and map applications,” said ABI Research Senior Analyst Mark Beccue in a statement. “A total of 60 percent of the mobile Cloud application subscribers worldwide will use an application enabled by location during these years.”
More broadly, ABI Research expects business productivity applications to dominate the mix of mobile cloud applications, particularly collaborative document sharing, scheduling, and sales force management apps. The major cloud players will lead the charge, including Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Amazon (GOOG: AMZN) and Salesforce (NYSE: CRM).
Vendors are already matching cloud services and mobility to come up with some innovative commercial applications. The research study notes, for example, LiNk, from lock manufacturer Schlage. LiNK is a keyless lock system for the home that enables subscribers to remotely control not only the door lock, but heating/cooling, security cameras and light monitors, all via PC or mobile device.
“By 2014, mobile cloud computing will become the leading mobile application development and deployment strategy, displacing today’s native and downloadable mobile applications,” said Beccue.
Smartbooks are coming
Mobile device manufacturers are also developing new hardware to tap cloud services. Mobile phone chipset giant Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) expects its Snapdragon mobile chipset to appear in “smartbook” devices this year.
These new smartbooks wilI weigh less than two pounds, run all day on battery power and deliver a high performance computing experience, Qualcomm’s CEO Paul Jacobs noted in a speech last month. He says these smartbooks will come from a number of manufacturers in different form factors over the next few months.