Mobility

iPhone Driving Smartphone Uptake, Finds Report

Michelle Maisto covers mobile devices, Android and Apple for eWEEK and is also a food writer.

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The iPhone has raised awareness of operating systems and software, which has helped increase volume shipments of smartphones

The Apple iPhone and its ability to handle downloadable applications, is being cited as a reason for an increase in smartphone shipments and the corresponding fall in price.

So states a report from ABI Research, which reported that in 2007, 18 percent of smartphones were priced under $200 (£121), but in 2009 that number grew to 27 percent, and by 2014 researchers expect 45 percent of smartphones to come with price tags under the $200 mark.

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“Manufacturers see consumers increasingly demanding smartphones, because of their better understanding of the value that a smartphone delivers,” said Kevin Burden, with ABI. “Nearly all consumers used to choose handsets based on the physical characteristics of the hardware, not the software inside. The iPhone changed that: more users are now shopping for their handset based on the operating system and software, which is something once thought to be very unlikely.”

Part of Google’s success with its Android operating system has come thanks to the quickly growing number of applications in its Android Market, which is estimated to exceed 10,000. While no match for Apple’s App Store, which is nearing 100,000 applications, it far exceeds the less-than-300 in Palm’s nonetheless growing App Catalog.

ABI finds smartphones to be increasingly priced within range of conventional phones as handset makers and carriers tinker with marketing strategies and subsidies.

There will always be the high-end concept phones meant to highlight a manufacturers’ design and innovation prowess, ABI points out, citing Nokia’s flagship N97. This smartphone, for example, arrived priced at $699 (£422), unlocked to a carrier and so without a subsidy. However, the greatest increase in smartphone shipment volumes over the next five years, states ABI, will be of those in the $100 (£60) to $200 (£121) range.

“Prices will hold at a certain point,” said Burden. “We may never see a $30 (£18) smartphone. But over time, smartphones will take a substantial part of the mainstream handset market.”

Separately, research firm iSuppli has stated that it expects the overall smartphone market to grow from the 184.2 million units shipping in 2009 to 334.1 million in 2011 and onward to 44.5 million units in 2013, largely encouraged by the iPhone’s arrival in China.

iSuppli predicts that smartphone shipments in China will reach 42.5 million in 2010 and continue climbing to 63.6 million in 2013.