Sale of smartphones is expected to "skyrocket" and account for 54 percent of total devices sold in the Asia-Pacific region in 2015, up from 9 percent in 2009, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan.
Released Monday, the report noted smartphones sales were "rapidly increasing" in all markets in the region with mobile social networking a common growth driver.
Smartphone sales in developed markets such as Japan and Korea will be mainly driven by users switching from feature phones to smartphones. In emerging markets, operators are expected to be the key growth drivers as they peddle smartphones to entice users to upgrade from 2G to 3G service, said Frost & Sullivan.
According to the research firm's industry manager, Marc Einstein, smartphones are critical to a telco's mobile broadband business case. In the report, he noted that depending on the market, the average revenue per user (ARPU) typically increases between 25 and 100 percent after users switch to a smartphone.
Frost & Sullivan noted that in 2010 incremental data usage from smartphones will generate US$38 billion for the 18 Asia-Pacific operators, including Japan, compared to just US$1.3 billion last year.
Despite the predicted surge in smartphone sales, the analyst firm noted factors such as the popularity of prepaid cards and lack of public Wi-Fi hotspots still challenge sales of the device in many markets.
According to a ZDNet Asia report, Nokia Symbian devices dominate the global smartphone market at 76.9 percent, while Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices take second place with 18 percent share of the market.