International Data Corporation (IDC) recently published its first IDC MarketScape for the worldwide quantum computing market, IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Quantum Computing Systems 2023 Vendor Assessment (IDC #US49607923, August 2023).
This study evaluated the seven circuit (gate-based) quantum computing hardware vendors that had developed circuit (gate-based) quantum computing systems. These vendors were offering access to these systems for a premium fee either through on-premises deployment, via the vendor’s quantum computing infrastructure-as-a-service (QCIaaS) offering, or a cloud service provider’s QCPaaS offering as of January 1, 2022. Eligibility was determined via information collected in a preliminary vendor survey and publicly available information. Quantum computing hardware vendors deemed eligible for inclusion in the study included: IBM, IonQ, IQM, PASQAL, Rigetti, Quantinuum, and Xanadu.
Interesting observations made over the course of the study include:
- Quality trumps quantity: There has been a shift in the emphasis from the number of qubits making up a system to the quality of qubits that make up a system. Quantum hardware developers and vendors recognize that while being able to scale the number of qubits that make up a system is an accomplishment, it’s more important to deliver systems made up of qubits that perform with high rates of accuracy.
- Hesitation in publishing detailed quantum computing developmental roadmaps: Many of the quantum hardware vendors are refraining from publishing detailed quantum computing developmental roadmaps. Learning from past experience, some quantum hardware vendors have found that publishing detailed roadmaps produces hype and a loss of confidence when deliverables and milestones are not met, even if the reason is related to unexpected technological challenges.
- Customers prefer to work with quantum hardware vendors versus quantum cloud service providers: While quantum computing platform as-a-service offerings provide organizations an opportunity to experiment with different modalities of quantum, these providers often to know the systems as intimately as the quantum computing vendor.
Before expanding upon the methodology used for this study, it is important to note that quantum computing is still in the early stages of development. Because quantum computing technology differs considerably from classical computing infrastructure, both established technology vendors and quantum computing start-ups are designing and fabricating their quantum systems from the ground up. The complexity of the technology continues to challenge quantum hardware developers in their ability to deliver scaled systems that perform with the accuracy and speed that is needed to solve some of today’s most complex problems.
As a result, quantum hardware developers are taking different approaches as to how and when to market their technologies. Some quantum hardware developers are operating in stealth mode, making very little known about the developmental status of their quantum systems. Other quantum hardware vendors are re-evaluating and revising their quantum computing developmental strategy with the hopes of accelerating the production of their quantum systems. Finally, there is a group of quantum hardware vendors that began offering access to their systems after January 1, 2022. This study should be viewed as a snapshot of a dynamically changing quantum market. An announcement at any time by any vendor could drastically affect the way the market is currently viewed.
To gauge the current status of the quantum computing market, IDC’s MarketScape model was used to evaluate the quantum hardware vendors on their quantum computing strategies and capabilities. Evaluations and assessments of each vendor were made independent of each other. Based on these evaluations, a statistical methodology was used to determine the classification of each quantum hardware vendor as illustrated in the MarketScape graphic—leader, major players, contenders, or participants. The nine criteria were used to assess each quantum computing hardware vendor’s strategy. A different set of ten criteria were used to assess the quantum hardware vendor’s quantum computing capabilities.
While quantum computing is very much a nascent technology, strategic approaches are being implemented by quantum computing hardware developers with the expectation of being able to achieve a near-term quantum advantage using NISQ systems within the next five to seven years. During that time IDC expects that there will be many shifts with regards to the technology, as well as among the different players that make up the ecosystem itself.
The IDC report, IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Quantum Computing Systems 2023 Vendor Assessment (IDC #US49607923, August 2023), provides an assessment of worldwide quantum computing hardware vendors through the IDC MarketScape model.