‘Asia-Pacific smartphone market to double by 2016’

‘Asia-Pacific smartphone market to double by 2016’

Singapore: The Asia-Pacific smartphone market is expected to double to 200 million by 2016, with Google’s Android operating system the leading platform, an industry analyst said Thursday.

The growing popularity of the handheld devices, which allow users to surf the Internet and access emails, will mean they will account for almost a third of all mobiles in the region in that time, telecoms consultancy Ovum said.

And despite the continuing success of Apple’s iPhone, Ovum added the Android platform will be by far the most used system because it is used in so many devices.

Smartphones, which numbered 100 million in the region last year, are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 12.5% between 2010 and 2016 and make up about 32% of all mobiles in Asia-Pacific, according to a statement from Ovum.

At the same time global sales are expected to hit 653 million, with Asia-Pacific accounting for 30.7% of the total, it said in a statement. More than 288 million smarthphones were sold worldwide in 2010.

“The smartphone market will see significant growth over the next five years, once again outperforming the wider mobile phone market," said Ovum principal analyst Adam Leach.

“We will see dramatic shifts in dominance for smartphone software platforms, with Android storming into the lead with 38.7% market share, compared to Windows Phone with 22.6%," he said.

Leach added that Apple’s iOS would account for 19% of the operating systems used by 2016, followed by BlackBerry’s platform with 9.2%.

In 2010, Android held an 8.9% market share, while Apple’s iOS had 13.3%, BlackBerry’s operating system 7.9% and Windows Phone 0.15%, Ovum data showed.

Leach said Android’s success “is being driven by the sheer number of hardware vendors supporting it at both the high and low ends of the market."

But he also said he expects at least one other platform to achieve mainstream success within the forecast period.

“This could be an existing player in the market such as Bada, WebOS, or MeeGo, or it could be a new entrant to the market place," Leach said.

The alliance between Nokia and Microsoft “has redrawn the smartphone market and will result in a significant reduction in shipments of (Nokia’s) Symbian-based handsets as Nokia transitions to Windows Phone as its primary smartphone platform," he said.

Nokia in February joined forces with US giant Microsoft in a major strategy shake-up aimed at regaining market share from Apple and Google.

“For Microsoft the deal provides a committed handset partner that has the potential to make Windows Phone a mainstream smartphone platform," added Leach.

“The risk to Microsoft is that other handset makers may choose not to compete with Nokia and may turn their backs on Windows Phone."