Smartphones sales to hit a billion a year by 2016

Prices to plummet but market for premium models to remain
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Research outfit Juniper has reported that smartphone shipments are set to hit the billion-per-year milestone by 2016.

Juniper's prediction paints the growth of the smartphone in a particularly striking light given that smartphones sold 302 million last year. Juniper said that smartphones will become the majority of handsets sold within five years.

"In developed markets, many consumers will want to upgrade from a feature phone to a smartphone, but still pay a feature phone price," said Juniper's Smartphones report author Daniel Ashdown.

The firm said that open source operating systems, Android specifically, and falling cost of components will lead to the smartphone price crash. However the firm said they believed the premium smartphone category (over $400) would continue to be 'robust'.

Juniper said high end models would continue to incorporate new features such as near-field communication, or NFC, 3D (displays, presumably) and biometrics which we take to mean fingerprint scanners and the like.

The firm also suggested that smartphones may arrive that have the capability to "morph into other devices" such as tablets and netbooks. Tablets are already playing that game with external keyboards and new smartphones have the graphics horsepower to play games on a large screen TV.

Could it be that the PC will increasingly fade away in favor of peripheral stations that merely extend the consumer's smartphone?

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