IDC’s “Diverse & Exploding Digital Universe” report

by on March 14, 2008 · 0 comments

There are some wonderful stats in this new IDC white paper “The Diverse & Exploding Digital Universe: An Updated Forecast of Worldwide Information Growth Through 2011.” For example:

The IDC research shows that the digital universe—information that is either created, captured, or replicated in digital form — was 281 exabytes in 2007. In 2011, the amount of digital information produced in the year should equal nearly 1,800 exabytes, or 10 times that produced in 2006. The compound annual growth rate between now and 2011 is expected to be almost 60%. The size of the digital universe in 2007 (and 2006) is bigger by 10% than we calculated last year, and the growth is slightly higher. This is a factor of faster-than-expected growth in higher resolution digital cameras, surveillance cameras — especially in places like China and major urban centers — and digital TVs and of improved methodology for estimating replication.

IDC information overload chart

This reflects the findings in the work of my PFF colleague Bret Swanson and George Gilder of Discovery in their “Estimating the Exaflood” study.

The IDC study also suggests that the rate of information creation is now out-pacing the growth of available storage. IDC argues that:

How to interpret this gap? Surely not all information created is important enough to store for any length of time, is it? Correct. A good portion of the digital universe is transient — radio and TV broadcasts that are listened to but not recorded, voice call packets that are not needed when the call is over, images captured for a time then written over on a surveillance camera recorder.But this is our first time in the situation where we couldn’t store all the information we create even if we wanted to. This mismatch between creation and storage, plus increasing regulatory requirements for information retention, will put pressure on those responsible for developing strategies for storing, retaining, and purging information on a regular basis.

IDC information storage chart

I also like this passage from the report about what the future holds:

As a society, our experience with the digital universe will unfold somewhat like a science-fiction novel. Within five years, there will be 2 billion people on the Internet and 3 billion mobile phone users. All will be interconnected; all will be creating and consuming content at an alarming rate. We can see fragments of the future today in the worlds of Second Life and Club Penguin, the stream of SMS messages to, the clinics in Beijing for exhausted Web addicts,xiii traffic control in Singapore, and sneakers that talk to officials of the New York Marathon.

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