smartphone shipment research by 2016Global handset shipments will increase 29% between 2012-2016, from 1.7 billion to 2.2 billion, driven by smartphone sales, low-cost smartphone sales in particular. Smartphone shipments will exceed shipments from the “ultra-low cost, low-cost, and feature phone segments” combined come 2016, according to new research from ABI.

Total non-smartphone shipments will grow 1.08 billion in 2012 to 1.09 billion in 2016, while smartphone shipments will grow from 643 million to 1.1 billion over the five-year period, ABI forecasts.

Under “tremendous pressure” to shift from low-cost handset to smartphone production, low-cost handset manufacturers need to come up with a winning low-cost smartphone strategy, according to ABI, and be successful at manufacturing selling smartphones at prices competitive with today’s low-cost handsets.

“This emerging scenario could become a very dangerous situation for Nokia’s handset business as the smartphone and feature phone segments will not be able to support each other in trying times,” said Kevin Burden, vice president and practice director, mobile devices, in a press release.

Low-cost handset original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), such as Huawei and ZTE, will be key driving factors for innovation and growth in the sub-$150 smartphone segment, ABI added.

Low-cost smartphone shipments are expected to grow from 45 million in 2012 to 170 million in 2016, according to ABI’s new “Mobile Device Shipment Market Data.”

“The writing is on the wall: either you have a successful smartphone strategy or you will have to steal market share to grow,” commented Michael Morgan, senior analyst, mobile devices.

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