The quantum computing market is expected to reach between $1 billion and $5 billion by 2025, according to GlobalData’s Tech, Media and Telecom Predictions 2023 report. Quantum computing uses principles of quantum physics to store and compute data. Superposition describes the ability of a quantum bit (qubit) to exist in an on and off state simultaneously. Qubits must be isolated from their external environment to achieve a state of superposition known as coherence. This is where much of the scientific and technological challenge exists, as qubits often decohere before the computation is completed. Current quantum computers (QCs) are said to be in the noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) stage of development.
Tech firms aim to commercialize quantum computing
IBM is a world leader in quantum computing research and development. In November 2022, it unveiled its latest QC, Osprey. Boasting 433 qubits, Osprey is currently the highest qubit count QC in the world, more than triple IBM’s previous record of the 127-qubit Eagle QC. IBM is on track to develop 4,000-qubit QCs by 2025 with a roadmap of 1,121 qubits in 2023 (Condor QC) and 1,386 qubits in 2024 (Flamingo QC). GlobalData predicts that full-scale commercial quantum computing will likely begin in 2027.
Big Tech firms have begun offering quantum-as-a-service (QaaS), notably Microsoft’s Azure Quantum, which provides users with access to hardware from other companies such as IonQ, Toshiba, and Honeywell’s Quantinuum. The QaaS market will continue to grow as more companies invest in quantum.
JP Morgan, Volkswagen, and Lockheed Martin are already investing in their quantum infrastructure in preparation for widespread adoption. These companies are well-positioned to benefit from a quantum advantage in financial modeling, process optimization, cybersecurity, and military research and development.
Governments recognize the threat of quantum
2023 will see the quantum capabilities gap continue to narrow between the US and China as the tech war intensifies. Of the 62 quantum computing start-ups listed on GlobalData’s companies database, 29% were headquartered in the US, followed by the UK (13%), and China (10%). These countries will become hubs of activity in quantum computing, attracting both domestic and international investment.
Quantum computing is the latest arena of competition between the US and China as both countries strive for technological supremacy. Major US tech firms currently dominate quantum computing. In China, Alibaba leads ahead of Huawei and Baidu. Alibaba is at the forefront of China’s quantum strategy; it has invested $15 billion into the DAMO science and technology research center and partnered with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
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Though currently estimated to be lagging five years behind the US in quantum computing, China supersedes the US in quantum satellite communications. The Chinese government has invested $10 billion into the construction of the National Laboratory for Quantum Information Science. When completed, its research focus will be on quantum technologies with direct military application. China benefits from an autocratic economic model. China can pool resources from institutions, corporations, and the government, working collectively to achieve a single aim.
In contrast, US tech firms compete against each other. The US government is increasingly involving itself in quantum development. The US CHIPS and Science Act, which was signed into law in August 2022, details $153 million of domestic funding to support US quantum computing initiatives, including discovery, infrastructure, and workforce. This support package will be implemented between 2023 and 2027.