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U.S. Consumers More Likely to Purchase Smartphones in 2011: Gartner

2011/03/01 | By Quincy Liang

Taipei, March 1, 2011 (CENS)--A good news for both smartphone makers, such as High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) and a group of key-parts suppliers in Taiwan, is the increasing popularity and penetration of smartphones.

According to the latest survey results released by Gartner, Inc., a leading information technology (IT) research and advisory company based in the U.K., consumers in the U.S. are more likely to buy a smartphone in 2011 than PCs, cellphones, e-readers, media tablets and gaming products.

U.S. smartphone sales are expected to grow from 67 million units in 2010 to 95 million units in 2011. By comparison, mobile-PC shipments are forecast to total 50.9 million in the U.S. in 2011, up from 45.6 million in 2010.

In December 2010, Gartner said it surveyed 1,557 cellphone users across the U.S., China, India, Italy, Japan and the U.K. on many topics, including the types of devices consumers are looking to buy within the next 12 months. Smartphones were followed by laptop computers and desktop computers in rankings of U.S. consumers' average intention to purchase in 2011. Cellphones ranked fourth in average intention to purchase, followed by e-book readers in the fifth position, and tablet computers ranking sixth.

"Continued low retail pricing and widespread adoption of applications like Web browsing, e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, GPS and games will continue to stimulate consumer demand," said Hugues de la Vergne, principal research analyst at Gartner. "In 2010, smartphones benefited from aggressive operator device subsidies and lower-cost monthly data plans."

Although demand is very strong at the high end of the smartphone market, Gartner analysts said vendors should not ignore the middle and lower tiers of smartphones, which will be a source of growth in 2011 as operators look for prepaid smartphones that require no subsidy.

Communication service providers should expand tiered data pricing to make open OS (Operating System) devices more affordable to the mass market, de la Vergne added. Introductory limited data plans of US$10 to US$15 a month will expand the market greatly for these devices, and in many cases, consumers will upgrade to higher-priced data plans over time once they get hooked on these services, he said.