RealTime IT News

Can The Social Web Sell More Smartphones?

Hardcore tweeters and bloggers already take their work with them on their mobile devices. But will all that activity help sell more smartphones?

Juniper Research thinks so. The firm said it expects sales of smartphones to rise to over 300 million by 2013, a jump of 95 percent over 2008 sales. Something has to help drive that sales growth. The social is among the key drivers, but certainly not the only reason.

Expect feature- rich devices to account for between 15 percent and 16 percent of total mobile handset sales by the end of 2009.

And that's in spite of 10 percent dip in overall mobile handset sales, due to economics, predicted for this year, Andrew Kitson, senior analyst, told InternetNews.com. Overall mobile handset shipments grew 5 percent to 6 percent in 2008, according to the report.

The news comes as social networking, adoption of micro-blogs, such as Twitter, and demand for live video streaming catches on with mobile device users. Twitter users were credited for providing the first reports of the plane crash in New York's Hudson River last month. The tool been adopted by enterprises like Dell, which uses it to share infromation with customers, and organizations such as the Red Cross which uses it for emergency response situations.

"Handset makers will be cutting back on the variety of devices, providing consumers less choices, but more of the choices will be smartphones," Kitson said.

"Users want access to video streaming and social networking capabilities and will be looking for devices providing those capabilities," said Kitson, who authored the report " Next Generation Smartphones: Players, Opportunities & Forecasts 2008-2013."

The sales projection, said Kitson, is evidence that mobile phones have arrived as highly personalized mobile computers and that handset makers realize that software enabling Web 2.0 functionality is now more important than hardware and handset design.