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How to kick-start your market research using the portable cellphone sector's key figures

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Global Phones, PDA & Tablet Industry Analysis


Smartphones and tables are both part of the portable devices industry.


The global smartphone market recorded close to 67% growth in 2011, reaching sales of 470 million units, up from 282 million units in 2010 according to research from Transparency Market Research. Sales to end-users are predicted to continue climbing to exceed 1,000 million units in 2015. Asia-Pacific accounts for close to 40% of the market and is forecast to record yearly growth of more than 36% for the five-years ending 2015. Three quarters of smartphone individual subscribers use the device for private and professional purposes.


The global tablet market reached sales to end users of 27 million units in 2011, according to Transparency Market Research. The market is forecast to reach almost 249 million units in 2015, with yearly growth of 39% between 2011 and 2015. Asia-Pacific is predicted to record the highest rate of global shipments of tablets, exceeding 36%. It is also expected to record the highest rate of end user tablet sales, reaching over 35% in 2015.


Tablet sales to end user rose almost 277% in 2011, up from under 18 million units in 2010. Market growth was fuelled by the popularity of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet, Samsung’s Galaxy and Galaxy 2 tablets, and Apple’s iPad 2 tablet. Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet sold 3.5 million units in the last 45 days of 2011, following its launch in November. The installed base of tablet devices exceeded 81 million units in 2011. This number is forecast to reach almost 389 million units in 2015, representing around 45% replacement rate by 2015.


Connectivity and Charging


Worldwide handset shipments rose 15% in 2011 to around 1.5 billion units, reports Berg Insight. Mobile operators are readily subsidizing these phones to boost postpaid subscriptions. Smartphone penetration is fuelling growth for wireless connectivity technologies like GPS, WLAN, NFC and Bluetooth. The latter allows headset connectivity, file transfers and medical sensors, while WLAN allows internet access, fast media and file transfer, and VoIP services.


The global Near Field Communication (NFC)-based mobile handset market is expected to record yearly growth of almost 69% between 2011 and 2016, according to research from GBI Research. NFC-based mobile handsets are used as virtual identity cards for downloading data and peer-to-peer communication. SIM-based and embedded models are forecast to account for the highest market share over the next coming years.


The worldwide wireless charging sector is forecast to exceed $7 billion in 2017, up from under $457 million in 2011, reports Markets and Markets. This represents yearly growth of more than 57% between 2012 and 2017. Japan dominates the wireless charging market, while the US is recording relatively slow growth as consumers gradually accept wireless charging technology. Due to its relative underdevelopment, this market holds various opportunities, including embedding wireless charging in commercial facilities such as airports, cinemas and cafes. Smartphones with embedded receivers means a sleeve is not required.



Market Outlook


Demand for greater network capacity and speed will continue to grow over the coming years as consumers become accustomed to various applications, including mobile enterprise, entertainment and social networking. Global Industry Analysts points to the move from fixed to mobile services as a challenge for communications networks, giving rise to the need for high-speed networks like 3G. The worldwide 3G/3.5G market is expected to reach almost 4.3 billion subscribers in 2017. Market growth will be fuelled by greater penetration of 3G enabled mobile phones, 3G network roll outs in emerging markets, and high-bandwidth multimedia services demand. In addition, demand from developing markets is also expected to drive market growth in this sector.



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