Led by smartphone makers Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Samsung Electronics, and LG Electronics, 4G LTE phone shipments will rise from just under 91 million units in 2012 to 275 million units in 2013. That estimate was published today by research firm Strategy Analytics.
The research firm says that countries driving the adoption of the high-speed 4G LTE handsets include the U.S., the U.K., Japan, China, and South Korea. In addition to Apple, Samsung, and LG, Strategy Analytics also expects Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Motorola division, Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM), Huawei, ZTE, and Pantech to push into the LTE market space.
Strategy Analytics’ executive director noted, “LTE has quickly become a high-growth, high-value market that no operator, service developer, component maker or device vendor can afford to ignore.”
Among the carriers that the researchers see expanding 4G LTE capability are Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone plc (NASDAQ: VOD), the U.K.’s Everything Everywhere (owned by Virgin Mobile), and Japan’s NTT Docomo.
Another expectation is that new entrants will jump into the field, and Strategy Analytics names Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Mozilla.org, although the firm warns that the market is “fiercely competitive” and new entrants “will need breakthrough products” in order to carve out a niche.
There are an estimated 6 billion mobile phone users globally, and the vast majority of those users do not currently own 4G LTE compatible phones. The worldwide total of smartphones in use today tops 1 billion, but the two billion mark remains a year or two in the future. As the 4G LTE networks expand, costs for these high-speed phones will fall and more and more will make it into customers’ hands.