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Smartphones surge to 23% of market by 2013

Palm Pre surfing a wave of smartphone popularity
Palm Pre surfing a wave of smartphone popularity

Within four years, nearly a quarter of all mobile phones sold will be smartphones, according to high-tech analysts Juniper Research

It says that rising demand for complex multimedia-centric applications is forcing handset manufacturers to design increasingly smart mobile devices, which it thinks will prove recession-proof as pricing becomes 'more attractive'.

Driving interest in smartphones will be the proliferation of online stores selling specialised applications that make these devices better suited to individual users' needs.

300 million Apps and counting

With around 300 million applications having already been downloaded from Apple's App Store, Juniper says its high visibility and ease of use has prompted players such as Nokia, RIM, and Google to jump into the applications market.

Report author Andrew Kitson says, "As vendors increasingly open up the operating system software on their devices, so will the rate at which mobile handsets evolve into personalised Internet-centric mobile computers gather momentum. Very soon, the majority of new phones will be smartphones."

The report also predicts annual smartphone sales to reach around 300 million, and says that device vendors seeing falling margins on handset sales will need to diversify into service provision with content deals with network operators.