Year-to-year growth in the smartphone market in 2005 exceeded 70 per cent and will continue to grow "robustly" for the next several years, with Linux and Microsoft emerging as the dominant platforms, In-Stat predicted today.
However, the analyst firm warned that the risk remains of consumers perceiving these devices as just very expensive feature phones.
In-Stat noted that a major problem affecting the appeal of smartphones is that many users do not download applications that make them more useful after they leave the store.
"The market's growth will involve major shifts in share among the operating system platforms, " said In-Stat analyst Bill Hughes.
Hughes observed that many wireless organisations are "wary" of Microsoft's intentions with Windows Mobile. Microsoft is working to overcome this reluctance by integrating the delivery of content to Windows Mobile-based smartphones with its server software.
"The winners will be Microsoft and Linux. Their growth will be at the expense of Research In Motion and PalmSource, although these organisations will continue to see their numbers grow," said the analyst.
The In-Stat report noted that the median number of applications that smartphone users have downloaded is only one, and that the ownership of PDAs, the devices that smartphones are meant to displace, is twice that for smartphone users as nonusers.
The research went on to warn that consumers, as well as the industry, still lack a clear definition of 'smartphone'.
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