Industry analysts at Gartner expect touchscreen mobile device sales to grow by 96.8% this year, to more than 362.7 million units, up from 184.3 million units in 2009. The analysts also predict touchscreen-enabled mobile devices, including smartphones and midrange phones, will account for 80% of all mobile device sales in North American and Western Europe, and 58% worldwide.
iPhone Shows the Way
According to Gartner, both manufacturers delivering devices and UIs optimized for touch technology and consumer expectations will drive demand. In a release, Gartner analyst Roberta Cozza cited the success of the iPhone, claiming it displayed the viability of capacitive touch technology in mobile devices.
“Touchscreens are no longer the preserve of high-end devices and are now being included in many midrange phones as more companies have been driving the consumer market for affordable touchscreen phones,” she said. “As phone capabilities increase, consumers are becoming much more aware of the benefits of touch interfaces, and vendors are responding.”
It’s All in the UE
However, analysts warn that vendors must concentrate on the user experience and not simply a shiny new product. “Consumers won’t buy a mobile device purely for the touch UI,” said CK Lu, a research analyst at Gartner. “Touch technology is just an enabler, and ultimately, it is a compelling user experience — which includes good UI design, applications and services — that will make or break a product.”
Gartner expects the Asia Pacific region to lead the way in sales, accounting 35.6% of the market in 2010, followed by Western Europe and North America, which should account for 26.8% and 24.4%, respectively.
PC Shipments to Increase
Gartner also predicted PC shipments to grow about 20% worldwide in 2010, to 366.1 million units, with mobile PCs driving an ever-increasing share of the growth. The analysts anticipate netbooks, smartbooks, and other portable PCs will account for nearly 70% of all shipments by 2012.
According to Gartner, mini notebooks and netbooks will lead the charge and boost sales this year. However, growth may decline in the face of competition from ULV ultraportables and next-generation tablets like the iPad. Gartner expects vendors to ship 10.5 million tablet devices worldwide, including the iPad, this year.
Desktop computer growth will be small and limited to emerging markets.