Asian smartphone market to double by 2016

Region's smartphone shipment to reach 200 million by 2016 with Android as leading platform, outpacing Apple iOS and Microsoft Windows Phone 7, reveals new report.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

Asia's smartphone market will double its size by 2016 to reach 200 million shipments, where Android will emerge as the dominant platform as it "dramatically" outperforms Apple's iOS and Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, according to a new report.

Market research firm Ovum said in a statement Thursday that global smartphone sales will hit 653 million shipments that same year, of which Asia will account for 30 percent.

Principal analyst, Adam Leach, noted in the report that the smartphone market will see significant growth over the next five years, "once again outperforming the wider mobile phone market".

According to Ovum, smartphones in the Asia-Pacific will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.5 percent between 2009 and 2016, and eventually account for 32 percent of the region's overall mobile phone market.

Leach added that Android will dominate Asia's smartphone platform market with a 38.7 percent market share by 2016, "dramatically outperforming" Windows Phone 7 which will account for 22.6 percent, Apple iOS at 19 percent share and BlackBerry OS at 9.2 percent.

The analyst noted that Android's success can be attributed to "the sheer number of hardware vendors supporting it at both the high and low ends of the market".

The Google mobile OS runs on smartphones from various handset manufacturers including Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC, Motorola and LG.

While Android may have pole position, Leach pointed out that at least one other platform is expected to achieve mainstream success within the forecast period. "This could be an existing player in the market such as WebOS, MeeGo or Bada, or a new entrant to the marketplace", he said.

Hewlett-Packard last month unveiled two smartphones powered by its WebOS platform, the result of the 2010 Palm acquisition.

In addition, the recently-minted partnership between Nokia and Microsoft has "redrawn the smartphone market", the Ovum analyst highlighted.

He noted that with Nokia using the Windows Phone OS, there will be significant reduction of Symbian-based handsets, despite the Finnish phonemaker's estimates that it will ship 76 million Symbian-powered phones beyond 2012.

Ovum's observations corroborate with a Mar. 10 report by IDC, which stated that Nokia's transition to Windows Phone will pave the way for Android platform to take a lead in the Asia-Pacific region.

Other studies also yielded similar predictions about Android's ascension as the leading mobile platform and success from Asia's booming smartphone sales. A Frost & Sullivan report last July stated that mobile social networking will cause smartphone sales to "skyrocket" in the Asia-Pacific region, accounting for 54 percent of all devices sold in the region by 2015.

Canalys last month announced that Android overtook Symbian-based smartphones as the top platform globally. The research firm said shipments of Android phones reached 32.9 million in the final quarter of 2010, edging out Nokia's Symbian platform which saw 31 million shipments.

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