Mobile and tablets set to steal PC crown as soon as this year

Smartphones and tablets are set to overthrow PCs and netbooks this year as the most popular way to go online.

According to a report published by KPCB this decade will see the continued rise of the mobile access devices, as social networking and cloud computing contribute to the sustained increase in global uptake of mobile computing.

The relative quality of products has meant devices are becoming more widespread than ever before, with better processing power, improved user interfaces and lower prices meaning that there are ten times more devices globally than a decade ago, as they become more accessible to the average consumer. There will be plenty more to come and processing power will go through the roof.

The iPad saw 14 million units sales in the first three quarters of it release, compared to 4 million for the iPhone and substantially less for the iPod, showing just how much of a presence newer and well marketed technologies have creeped into the mainstream public consciousness. For example the London Underground is full of posters with iPads sat awkwardly on crossed-leg laps – the only way you can really use them. But they certainly look a treat.

The staggering rise in the popularity of social networks has been a main driver, with Facebook seeing 662 million users, an increase of 41 percent year on year, while Twitter now has 253 million users, an impressive increase of 85 percent year on year.

The link between social networking and mobile devices can be seen clearly in the Japanese market where a general rise in access to social networking sites has inceased, while the amount of people accessing them from a traditional PC has steadily decreased – 85 percent of users accessing sites from mobile devices in the final quarter of 2010. Let’s not forget the Facebook phone, ChaCha, in partnership with HTC that’s out this year and launched at Mobile World Congress.

In general, Facebook has seen mobile access increase fourfold from 50m in 2009 to 200m this year, with twice as many using the site on the go. Spotify saw its paid subscriptions double this when it allowed mobile access to the service.

It is expected that the amount of data transferred will increase substantially over the next years. According to KPCB, it’ll go from an estimated 500,000 terabytes per month in 2010 to over 6 million per month in 2015.