FRAMINGHAM, Mass. ( TheStreet)-- Apple ( AAPL) iPhone apps will experience rapid growth in 2010, according to research firm IDC, with the number of applications tripling to reach 300,000. Apple unveiled the third version of its iPhone operating system during the summer and recently announced that more than two billion apps have been downloaded on the iconic phone. IDC, which released its 2010 tech predictions early Thursday, also expects the number of Google ( GOOG ) Android apps to surge by a factor of five or more. Whereas Apple's App Store has over 100,000 apps, Google's Android market lags way behind. The Androlib.com Web site, which tracks Android, says that Google offers about 20,000 apps in its online store. This figure is growing rapidly, with 3,544 new apps launched last month. Google is hell-bent on extending its reach beyond desktops into mobile devices, and users are expecting a deluge of apps on Android phones such as Motorola's ( MOT) Droid. A slew of companies, including Motorola, Verizon ( VZ), Sprint ( S), and Deutsche Telekom's ( DT) T-Mobile already offer phones powered by the Android operating system, and Google is working on its own phone. Boosted by smartphones, netbooks, and the forthcoming launch of Apple's mysterious Tablet computer, IDC estimates that more than one billion mobile devices will be accessing the Internet by the end of 2010, competing more and more with traditional PCs. With the economic crisis still visible in the rear-view mirror, IDC's research spells good news for the tech sector as a whole. The analyst firm predicts that worldwide IT spending will grow by 3.2% in 2010, returning the industry to 2008 levels of about $1.5 trillion.
"In last year's predictions, we talked about how a slow global economy would act like a pressure cooker on the IT market, speeding the development and adoption of new technologies and business models," said Frank Gens, IDC's chief analyst, in a statement. "What's different about 2010 is that the economic recovery will release some of the pressure on spending, enabling a number of transformational tipping points to be reached in a year of economic upswing." There have already been signs that IT spending is bouncing back, with some of tech's biggest names reaping the benefits. Tech bellwether IBM ( IBM ) recently posted strong third quarter results and rival Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) has predicted a return to growth in 2010. Set against this backdrop, IDC expects that 2010 will be a big year for cloud computing, marked by the emergence of "enterprise-grade" cloud services. Cloud services, which typically offer compute power or data storage via the Internet, have been gaining momentum, with companies such as Amazon ( AMZN), Microsoft ( MSFT) and Verizon pushing the technology. Though in its infancy, cloud technology is expected to mature in 2010. IBM, for example, claims to be breaking new ground with the recent launch of its Smart Analytics Cloud, a set of technologies for firms that want to compile multiple sources of information within their organization. IDC predicts that a battle will unfold around cloud application platforms, which the analyst firm describes as "the most strategic real estate in the cloud for the next 20 years." There could also be opportunities for public clouds, exemplified by Amazon's S3 storage service, as well as private clouds where companies offer Web-based services within their own organization. Cloud appliances, hybrid cloud management tools and cloud APIs will all play a big role next year, according to the analyst firm.
Other IDC predictions for 2010 include a new, "mashed-up" generation of business applications tied to social networks, green IT to reduce greenhouse gases and a busy year for tech acquisitions and partnerships. -- Reported by James Rogers in New York