As the growth of cloud computing enables users to access powerful applications and volumes of data from any connected device, the smartphone industry is set to continue its rapid rise, according to a recent study published by research firm IDC.

The study, entitled Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, predicted the worldwide smartphone market will grow approximately 49.2 percent in 2011. In 2010, 303.4 million smartphone devices were sold worldwide. This is expected to increase to approximately 450 million units in 2011.

IDC also predicted Google's Android mobile operating system will become the most popular in 2011. The popularity of Android grew rapidly in 2010, making it the second most popular operating system.

Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst for IDC, said the study's predictions bode well for vendors that have already invested in Android. "For the vendors who made Android the cornerstone of their smartphone strategies, 2010 was the coming-out party," Llamas said. "This year will see a coronation party as these same vendors broaden and deepen their portfolios to reach more customers, particularly first-time smartphone users."

According to a recent Datamation report, cloud computing and mobile devices, such as smartphones, may ultimately displace the PC as the primary way people access applications and data.