The global penetration rate for cellular devices will equal the world's population by the end of 2014, and Asia will account for two thirds of sales growth, according to new predictions from IMS Research.
The company's latest World Market for Mobile Handsets report said that the cellular installed based will reach 115 per cent in 2016, smartphones accounting for around half of all handsets sold.
Global sales of 3G and 4G handsets will make up 51 per cent of the market by 2016, the bulk of the growth at the entry level sub-$300 price point.
Smartphone sales in China will more than quadruple between 2010 and 2016 to reach 400 million units by 2016. However, the high price is a strong limiting factor and may induce some existing smartphone vendors to offer cut down models.
"Some smartphones can cost half the annual average income for a Chinese consumer, so there would be a market there for lower cost but functional devices," Josh Builta, co-author of the report, told V3.
"It's my belief we'll see Apple introduce an iPhone-like device within the next six months. A low price device would open up a huge market and I think Apple's ready to make the move, if it can produce in volume."
Sales of touch-screen smartphones are forecast to grow 56 per cent to 1.15 billion by 2016, driven by demand in the mature markets of Europe and the US. The screen size is also predicted to grow, and over a quarter will use 3.5in screens or above.
The strongest growth area for connections is LTE, which should account for 266 million devices by 2016, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2010 of 167 per cent.
WiMax, also counted as a 4G standard, will see a CAGR of 54 per cent to connect over 100 million devices by 2016.
"WiMax had a headstart in the 4G market and has a higher user base at the moment. But LTE has emerged as de facto standard in every region of the world. It's hard to see a significant play for WiMax in the long term," Builta said.
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