Smartphones to total one quarter of new mobiles by 2013

Rising demand for complex multimedia-centric applications is forcing handset manufacturers to design increasingly smart and highly personalised mobile devices.

A new smartphones report from Juniper Research forecasts that smartphones will account for 23% of all new handsets sold per annum by 2013. Driving interest in smartphones will be the proliferation of online stores selling specialised applications that will make these devices better suited to individual users’ needs.

The runaway success of Apple’s App Store – reportedly 300 million applications were downloaded by iPhone users within five months of its launch – underscores the rapidity with which smartphones are being adopted by ordinary consumers, eager to build a complete multi-utility lifestyle tool rooted in the Web 2.0 culture. The App Store was not the first on the market, but its high visibility and ease of use has prompted players such as Nokia, RIM, and Google also to jump into the applications market.

According to report author Andrew Kitson: “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. In this way, users are having an indirect impact on the way in which devices are changing their form and function as well as how they interact with their surroundings. Very soon, the majority of new phones will be smartphones.”

Other findings include: By 2013, annual smartphone sales will reach around 300 million; Sales of smartphones will remain healthy during the recession as fewer mid-range devices compete for buyers’ attentions and pricing becomes more attractive, while consumers will come to believe that they will be getting more for their money by buying high end devices; Device vendors are seeing falling margins on handset sales and need to diversify into service provision with high value content from which they and their network operator partners can profit.