The rise of the "app internet" – in which users' PCs, smartphones and tablets run the business applications – will drive completely different demands from technology next year.
That is the verdict of technology industry experts, who predicted fast-shifting pressures on technology from the rise in mobile application development, cloud computing and new security threats.
According to Forrester analysts, having said that the web, as the dominant software architecture of the Internet, was dead, a new internet is evolving – dominated by applications and now placing a strain on the technology supporting it.
"The app internet ushers in the next generation of computing," Forrester said. The high "momentum" of personal devices growth was vastly changing mobile platform strategies.
In order to cope with the change, it said, "elastic application platforms" would emerge "to handle variable scale and portfolio balancing". Businesses would also increasingly push for private clouds, aided by "improved virtualisation", it said.
It added that "always on, always available" was "the new expectation" from business leaders, and networks needed to evolve to meet this.
Gartner said that "low cost cloud services" would begin a fast growth, forming "up to 15 per cent of top outsourcing players' revenue" within three years. These industrialised services would "alter the common perceptions of pricing and value of IT", it said.
Cloud services will top $36 billion (£23 billion) in 2012, IDC said, "growing at four times the industry rate".
"Eighty percent of new apps will target the cloud," it said, with Amazon "joining the $1 billion vendor club" and duelling with Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce.com and VMware.
In spite of frequent gloomy predictions by financial analysts for the world economy, IDC said there would be a 6.9 percent growth in IT spending in 2012, "turbo-charged" by mobile devices. But analysts warned of the Thailand floods' continued severe impact on the PC supply chain, and they said some production could shift to the Americas.
The battle to lead the IT marketplace will "start to be won and lost" next year, with Amazon's Kindle Fire taking 20 percent of media tablets, and growing Android momentum taking on the mobile OS field.
It would be a "make or break" year for Microsoft, RIM and HP in mobile devices, with the vendors respectively depending upon the success of Windows 8, BBX and tablets, IDC said.
Analyst firm CCS Insight predicted that RIM would restructure its business "into two divisions: a services unit and a hardware unit". The aim of this would be "to provide sharper focus on the two most important elements of RIM's business", it said.