Forecast: Open source efforts to dominate smartphone market

Smartphone penetration will triple to 38 percent by 2013, with the Symbian Foundation's evolution to an open source platform instrumental in maintaining the Symbian OS's lead over rival operating systems, according to a new forecast issued by market research firm Informa Telecoms & Media. Informa anticipates that while the recession will force total new handset sales in 2009 to decline 10.1 percent year-over-year, smartphones will continue to grow at an annual pace of 35.3 percent, and will account for 13.5 percent of all handsets sold this year.

Informa notes that among the 162 million smartphones sold in 2008, a little more than 49 percent were based on the Symbian OS, a significant drop from the 65 percent market share the platform enjoyed just a year ago, which the report blames both on Nokia's poor smartphone performance as well as the continued growth of rivals like the BlackBerry OS, the iPhone and Google's Android. However, Informa contends open platform strategies like Symbian are crucial as value moves from device hardware to software and content, adding that handset vendors must develop strategies to maximize these new revenue streams while reducing costs.

Citing LG's recent commitment to launch 50 new Windows Mobile-based handsets as well as Motorola, Sony Ericsson and HTC's efforts to reinvent their respective approaches to the smartphone market as evidence of the mobile industry's shift to an open-source environment, Informa adds that developer input is increasingly central to the mobile handset value chain, noting that platform and applications development are already reaping the benefits of the open source components and approaches introduced by the LiMo Foundation, Android and the Symbian Foundation

For more on the Informa forecast:
- read this release

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