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Emergence of 4G drives mobile hardware sales to $376bn in 2012

28 Nov 2012
Apple iPhone 5 front featuring 4G and 4in screen

Despite an expected downturn in components such as flash memory, global spending on mobile hardware will balloon to $376bn this year, according to analysts.

Research firm IHS said that the mobile hardware market is set to grow by some 13 percent in 2012, in the first step of what analysts project to be a march to $ in annual sales by the end of 2016.

Analysts attributed much of the increase to the emergence of the 4G LTE standard. As both consumers and telecoms carriers shift over to the new wireless broadband format, analysts believe that the hardware market will benefit.

Analysts noted that the growth comes as overall spending on hardware has slumped in 2012. Researchers have predicted that the PC market will see its lowest growth rates in more than a decade, while niche markets such as flash memory hardware and ultrabook models are projected to fall short of expectations.

"The wireless equipment market is continuing to grow this year despite facing daunting economic headwinds, including the slowdown in China and the turmoil engulfing the Euro zone," explained IHS senior principal analyst for wireless communications Francis Sideco.

"To be sure, growth this year will be lower than the much more sizeable expansion of 29 percent in 2011. However, the market’s double-digit rise in 2012 is a testament to the ongoing appeal of cellphones and tablets to global consumers."

Tablet and handset sales have shown signs of soaring adoption, particularly in the consumer space. Research from IBM suggested that the use of mobile devices for shopping this holiday season has nearly doubled over the same period in 2012.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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