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96% of All U.S. Mobile Handset Sales Will Be Smartphones by Year-End 2016
Posted: 13-Mar-2012 [Source: iGR Research]

[In 2009 33% of handset sales in the U.S. were smartphones, by year's end 2011 76% of handsets sold were smartphones, and iGR projects 96% of handsets sales in the U.S. will be smartphones in 2016.]

Austin, TX -- Within 2011 alone, U.S. users were buying considerably more smartphones than they were in 2010. By the end of the year, approximately 76 percent of handsets sold were smartphones. This is notable, as only approximately 33 percent of U.S. mobile handset sales were attributable to smartphones in 2009.

iGR's new market research report, U.S. Smartphone Forecast, 2011 - 2016, previews the expected sales for 2011-2016 both in terms of non-smartphone, and smartphone devices and mobile operating systems (OSes). Recent trends within the market are also discussed and applied to the conversation about the future of handset sales to end users through 2016.

Some of the factors that led to this increase across U.S. users include: a rise in upgrade and replacement sales as non-smartphone users transition to smartphones, enterprise user trends (more personal liable smartphones in use), advancements in mobile device hardware and software, carrier network developments (e.g., increasing 3.5G availability), and increased consumer demand for mobile devices that fit a portable, data-driven lifestyle.

These trends, and others, provide support for the upward swing in total mobile handset sales, but particularly that of smartphones, in the U.S. through 2011, and are expected to continue. In fact by 2016, iGR expects approximately 96 percent of U.S. handset sales to be comprised entirely of smartphone sales.

"The growth in the U.S. smartphone market has been very strong in the last few years," said Iain Gillott, president and founder of iGR, a market research consultancy focused on the wireless and mobile industry. "But as the market becomes saturated, smartphone sales growth will slow. For OEMs who are hoping to gain, or regain, market share in the U.S., the time to act is now. By 2014, we believe the majority of the smartphone sales growth will be over."

At present, the smartphone market has hit something of a design impasse, with all OEMs attempting to out-design Apple with a 'shiny black glass block' design approach (although materials vary, the design similarities between smartphones are amazingly small at present). And given the growth in smartphone sales together with the very high market entry costs, iGR believes it unlikely that significant new OEMs will enter the market in the next few years.

iGR anticipates that the majority of growth in the U.S. smartphone market segment will occur prior to 2014. This suggests that equipment vendors and manufacturers, as well as software developers, are likely to see the greatest gains should they enter the market earlier on. Such front-loaded expansion also indicates that certain mobile OSes, especially Apple and Android who are the current market leaders, may be better poised for sustained long-term growth than other mobile OSes who are either just entering the market or currently faltering or repositioning.

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