Smartphones-lots of them-together will continue to be a driving force for many consumer and electronic applications this year as shipments close in on 1 billion units, according to IHS iSuppli insights from the Mobile and Wireless service at information and analytics provider IHS.
Some 834 smartphones are projected to ship in 2013, up a robust 27 percent from 655 million units last year. Shipments will cross the 1 billion mark next year, on their way to 1.3 billion units by 2016. Expected to make up 56 percent of all cellphones this year, smartphones will continue to increase their dominance over other types of phones in the global market, including lower-end handsets known as feature phones mostly prevalent in the world's developing countries. The smartphone share is set to rise to 72 percent in 2016 as the devices become more affordable to the world at large.
Smartphones are among the gadgets dotting the landscape for connected devices, an expansive array covering any consumer apparatus able to connect to the Internet, either through wired or wireless means, and interact with other devices as well as servers. The winning players in this dynamic terrain will be those involved in the smartphone, tablet and wireless infrastructure markets, enjoying strong growth regardless of any lingering macroeconomic concerns..
With the year just unfolding, here are 11 notable trends and developments to watch for in the connected devices market:
1. Apple and Samsung will continue to dominate the smartphone market.
2. Chinese smartphone manufacturers are poised for explosive growth in 2013. For the first time, smartphone shipments will outpace those of all other mobile handset types, thanks to a maturing domestic market and a well-developed component supply chain.
3. Competition for a third smartphone platform-after Google's Android and Apple's iOS-will ensue following the release of BlackBerry's newest offering, along with a newly energized Windows 8 platform from Microsoft.
4. Products will roll out in 2013 featuring Miracast technology, which allows wireless peer-to-peer transmission between mobile and fixed devices, through the auspices of Miracast-enabled Wi-Fi chips. As a result, mobile phones and tablets will be able to communicate with televisions.
5. Smartphones, laptops and tablets will increasingly support the next generation of Bluetooth technologies, known as Bluetooth 4.0, with dual-mode for high-speed Bluetooth over Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth low energy for communication with peripherals like smart watches and heart-rate monitors. A wide range of Bluetooth low energy smart-enabled peripherals will be introduced, targeting different application markets, including health and fitness, along with consumer devices.
6. More service providers will appear on the market in the form of telcos and security-focused entities, coming online with their "smart home system" offerings. The new players will hope to grow average revenue per user in the face of ever-declining voice-only income, while also attempting to reduce subscriber turnover, or "churn."
7. More multiprotocol 802.15.4 solutions will be deployed, supporting ZigBee RF4C3, ZigBee Pro and now ZigBee Green Power-all aimed at enabling secure, low-data-rate, short-range communications to previously standalone devices including, but not limited to, utility meters and other industrial devices.
8. The commercial deployment of ZigBee Green Power will enable the energy harvesting of ZigBee-based solutions, resulting in direct competition with the proprietary technology championed by U.K. entity EnOcean.
9. Radio frequency (RF) components-particularly those meant for handsets- are set to enjoy a big year in 2013, as the next-generation wireless standard known as 4G Long Term Evolution becomes more widespread. RF components will also continue to provide backward compatibility with older 2G/3G standards. The resulting mode and brand proliferation will drive revenue growth of 13 percent.
10. RF components known as duplexers will post wild gains this year, with unit shipments forecast to climb 23 percent. Duplexers will figure significantly in both transmit and receive functions of current CDMA- as well as newer OFDMA-based handsets.
11. Qualcomm, which had a great year in 2012, will continue to lord over the baseband chip market. While competitors are beginning to eye the massive LTE pie, the existing huge lead of the San Diego-based manufacturer will make it hard for anyone to eat Qualcomm's lunch.
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