According to a recently published IHS iSuppli Wireless Communications Market Tracker Report, by 2013 half of all mobile phones sold will be smartphones. Although the eventual rise and dominance of smartphones was always predicted, this latest forecast brings the tipping point forward by a whole two years. The same report also predicts that by 2016, smartphones will make up more than two-thirds of all mobile phone sales.

“This represents a major upgrade for the outlook compared to a year ago, when smartphones weren’t expected to take the lead until 2015,” IHS senior analyst Wayne Lam said in a statement. “Over the past 12 months, smartphones have fallen in price, and a wider variety of models [has] become available, spurring sales of both low-end smartphones in regions like Asia-Pacific, as well as midrange to high-end phones in the United States and Europe.”

In 2011, smartphone shipments accounted for 35 percent of the total cellphone market. In 2012, despite economic uncertainties, smartphone sales increased to 46 percent of all cellphones shipped. By 2013, that number is forecast to jump to 54 percent making smartphones the single largest cellphone segment.

Currently, Samsung is the biggest handset manufacturer and has displaced Nokia from its long held number one spot. Third is Apple, followed by China’s ZTE, and then LG. These top 5 manufacturers account for more than three quarters of all handset shipments (not just smartphones). The report also notes that the dominance of the top 5 and the intense competition has resulted in a few expected casualties, including Symbian from Nokia and WebOS from Palm.

China is leading the way with the adoption of smartphones, because last month it was revealed that more than half of all mobile phones sold in the second quarter of 2012 were smartphones. Android has helped push the popularity of smartphones in China due to its open source nature. Due to the manufacturing conditions in China, Android smartphones can be found for as little as $100 without a contract.

Gary Sims
Gary has been a tech writer for over a decade and specializes in open source systems. He has a Bachelor's degree in Business Information Systems. He has many years of experience in system design and development as well as system administration, system security and networking protocols. He also knows several programming languages, as he was previously a software engineer for 10 years.