(By Balachander) Research firm IHS Inc. (NYSE:IHS) upgraded its outlook for smartphones, citing spurring sales of both low-end models in emerging economies, as well as midrange to high-end phones in the United States and Europe.
IHS expects smartphones to make up more than half of all cellphone shipments in 2013 — two years earlier than previously predicted.
Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS, said the solid expansion in both shipments and market share this year of smartphones will make them the leading type of mobile phone for the first time, and shipment growth in the double digits will continue for the next few years.
In 2013, IHS forecasts smartphone shipments to account for 54 percent of the total cellphone market, up from 46 percent in 2012 and 35 percent in 2011.
A year ago, smartphones weren't expected to take the lead until 2015, Lam noted.
IHS said smartphones will represent 67.4 percent of the total cellphone market by 2016, when low-end smartphone users will account for 43 percent of the total smartphone market.
By the end of 2012, the information and analytics provider said smartphones will become the single largest cellphone segment while still accounting for less than 50 percent of the market.
The firm believes smartphones will become the focal point of the handset industry.
IHS said Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), China's ZTE and LG Electronics accounted for 75.5 percent of all handset shipments during the first quarter, up marginally from 74.7 percent in the fourth quarter last year. Samsung took the top spot, displacing Nokia (NYSE:NOK).