A new report from market intelligence firm IHS iSuppli suggests that the rapid groth of 4G LTE is driving a "convergence" of electronic devices, but there's a nugget in there that is fairly astounding.
Specifically, IHS analysts predict that global 4G LTE subscriptions will reach 73.3 million by the end of 2012 -- a 334 percent increase from 16.9 million in 2011.
Furthermore, that figure should increase again by 181 percent in 2013 with total 205.7 million subscriptions. By 2016, 4G LTE subscribers is expected to number nearly 1.2 billion.
Francis Sideco, a senior principal analyst for wireless communications at IHS, explained in the report that the "chief agent" fueling the growth of the wireless industry and related electronics (i.e. smartphones, tablets, etc.) is the strength and speed that 4G offers compared to previous generation networks.
Providing much faster access speeds than comparable 3.5G and 3.75G technologies, 4G LTE makes real-time applications such as video streaming and multiperson gaming usable, not just possible. In turn, the increasing penetration of 4G is a factor in furthering the convergence of smartphones, tablets, computers and other devices. Such convergence allows manufacturers to create a market strategy in which applications can be leveraged across multiple devices through a common user interface—an increasingly important factor not just in a manufacturer’s capability to compete, but also a key element for success in the adoption of a device.
However, IHS analysts pointed out that 3G subscribers will still continue to out number LTE users for awhile. The difference is that the pace of growth for 3G is going to be considerably slower and definitely not in the triple-digit range like 4G will. In fact, IHS expects it won't exceed 35 percent at any point going forward.
This forecast follows another report from IHS earlier this week that asserts smartphone ownership is accelerating faster than previously predicted. Global smartphone shipments are projected to account for 54 percent of the total cellphone market by 2013, up from 46 percent this year.