BEANCOUNTERS at IDC have predicted impressive growth in the smartphone market this year, an increase of nearly 50 per cent as more consumers and enterprise users turn their backs on less functional handsets.
IDC said that smartphone vendors will ship more than 450 million smartphones in 2011 alone, an increase of just under 50 per cent against 2010, which saw 303.4 million devices sold.
The increase, though great, will taper off towards the end of the year however, unlike in 2010 when sales were consistently strong.
"Overall market growth in 2010 was exceptional," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker.
"Last year's high market growth was due in part to pent-up demand from a challenging 2009, when many buyers held off on mobile phone purchases. The expected market growth for 2011, while still notable, will taper off somewhat from what we saw in 2010."
Currently things look good for the Android operating system, which is expected to lead the market this year. "Android is poised to take over as the leading smartphone operating system in 2011 after racing into the number 2 position in 2010," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's mobile devices technology and trends team.
"For the vendors who made Android the cornerstone of their smartphone strategies, 2010 was the coming-out party. 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."
However, perhaps most interesting is which firm will find itself in second place, which IDC said will be Microsoft with its Nokia-backed Windows Phone OS.
"Up until the launch of Windows Phone 7 last year, Microsoft has steadily lost market share while other operating systems have brought forth new and appealing experiences," added Llamas.
"The new alliance brings together Nokia's hardware capabilities and Windows Phone's differentiated platform. By 2015, IDC expects Windows Phone to be number 2 operating system worldwide behind Android."
Symbian meanwhile, should fall from a 20 per cent share this year to a slender 0.2 per cent slice in 2015. µ
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