Five Billion Smartphones To Be Sold By 2016, Forecasts Qualcomm

By Anu Passary | Nov 19, 2012 10:02 AM EST

With companies vying with each other for top honors, the steadily growing smartphone space is inundated with a plethora of devices. What's more, according to chipset manufacturer Qualcomm, the smartphone market is poised to grow even more, and the technology firm forecasts that 5 billion smartphones will be sold between 2012 to 2016.

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Qualcomm builds chips that are found in several Android-powered devices among others. Its Snapdragon line of processors is quite popular with mobile phone manufacturers.

 At the firm's annual investors meeting in San Diego, California, Qualcomm's CEO Paul Jacobs predicted that the increase in demand for smartphones would propel the company to double digit growths in the course of the next few years. Jacobs also sees continuous growth in the mobile phone industry overall.

"Consumer expectations for connectivity, battery life and portability will drive Qualcomm's growth in the segment," noted Qualcomm.

Additionally, the rise of LTE networks would require phones that support more battery life and better processor speed, which in turn has given a boost to Qualcomm's fortunes. The manufacturer sees tablets as the next growing area and estimates that 650 million tablets and laptops will be sold in 2016 alone.

Whether Jacobs' forecast bears fruition remains to be seen. However, judging by recent figures, the estimation may seem a little farfetched, especially given the short time frame. According to a recent IDC report, 181 million smartphones were shipped in Q3 2012. Additionally, research firm Gartner Inc estimates that 821 million smartphones and tablets will be sold worldwide in 2012, and will "pass the billion mark in 2013."

However, earlier in October, Strategy Analytics noted that as of Q3 2012, there 1.038 billion smartphones were in use worldwide, and it estimates that the next 1 billion smartphone users milestone would take another three years to reach.  

The question is can this number be multiplied five times over in just four years? Going by the current trends and the increasing popularity of smartphones, especially in emerging consumer markets that boast a booming population, the additional 4 billion smartphone sales figure by 2016 does not seem that implausible.

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