According to recent predictions from analyst firm IDC, mobile web usage is set to explode over the course of next year due to market forces like the tripling of iPhone applications, the quintupling of Android applications and the introduction of Apple's long-rumored tablet computer. This forecast was among the firm's many year-end predictions released in a report that offered a broad overview of what's to come in 2010 in the IT industry, cloud computing, the mobile web and the overall technology marketplace.

Mobile Web Continues Growth

One the more notable predictions in the near 20-page report is in regard to the growth of the mobile industry. Under the headline "Mobile Devices on a Path to Eclipse PCs", the analyst firm claims that in 2010, mobile devices will increasingly become a strategic platform for both commercial and enterprise developers. However, the report backs away from the implications made in that eye-catching title by clarifying that the firm is not (yet) predicting the "death of the PC," rather that mobile devices will no longer be seen as "subservient to PCs." Instead, says IDC, mobile devices will be viewed as primary client platforms.

While IDC may not predicting the death of the PC, it does believe that in 2010 mobile devices will eclipse PCs in several areas - or at least come very close. For example, the firm claims we'll see more than a billion mobile devices connected to the web by year-end. That's almost as many mobile devices as internet-connected PCs, the latter which will total 1.3 billion. Also, the growth rate of mobile devices is 2.5 times that of PCs.

For the most part, the growth will be spurred by the proliferation of smartphones, such as Apple's iPhone, RIM's Blackberry as well as the lines running Nokia's Symbian operating system (OS), Windows Mobile and Google's Android OS. In 2010, 200 million more smartphones will ship, representing 16% of the market. By 2013, that figure will rise to 20% or more.

In addition to the sheer number of phones produced in the coming year, application development will continue to see explosive growth, too. IDC believes Apple's iPhone will have 300,000 applications available by year-end (up from the 100,000 they have now) while Android will offer 50,000-75,000 (up from 10,000 now). IDC also believes that Google's strategy with Android - that is, an open OS that can run on different hardware - will help make it a strong iPhone competitor.

Apple "iPad" Will Launch

Of course, the one prediction which everyone wants to know about is the Apple tablet. IDC dubs the device the "iPad" and says it will be more like an oversized (8-10 inch) iPod Touch than a downsized Mac computer. The device will allow for web surfing, videophone applications, gaming, reading books, magazines, and newspapers, and watching videos. Last year, IDC said the iPad would not arrive in 2009 - and since it's now December, it appears to have been right. Now the firm claims 2010 is finally the year for its launch. It also notes that it would not be surprising to see Microsoft launch its own tablet device next year, too.

In addition to the introduction of the so-called iPad, IDC says the netbook market will continue to grow as major manufacturers expand their lineup to include different pricing levels for the ultraportable machines. This "good, better, best" lineup will allow netbooks to move away from being considered value-oriented systems (cheap with low performance) to being decent alternatives to traditional notebook PCs.

Do You Agree?

The IDC report involves predications of what's to come, but it was created after studying this year's data in detail and extrapolating on that to peer into the future. We think their findings sound credible - even the one about the mythical "iPad," although that may just be wishful thinking on our part.

Do you agree with these predictions, too? Share your thoughts in the comments.