Touchscreen Mobile Devices to Grow 97% This Year

The mainstreaming of touchscreen will take off in a big way this year, with sales of mobile devices using touchscreens expected to double in 2010 and comprise four out of five smartphones in some markets within just a few years.

Market research firm Gartner projects that the worldwide market for touchscreen-equipped mobile devices will grow over 96.8 percent this year, driven mostly by smartphones but also driven in part by tablets, mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and other portable devices.

By 2013, touchscreen-enabled mobile devices will account for 58 percent of all mobile device sales worldwide and will account for more than 80 percent of sales in developed markets like North America and Western Europe.

"Touchscreens are no longer the preserve of high-end devices and are now being included in many midrange phones, as more companies have been driving the consumer market for affordable touchscreen phones," Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. "As phone capabilities increase, consumers are becoming much more aware of the benefits of touch interfaces, and vendors are responding."

However, touch is not the be-all and end-all for selling phones, Gartner warned. "Consumers won't buy a mobile device purely for the touch UI," CK Lu, a research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. "Touch technology is just an enabler, and ultimately, it is a compelling user experience -- which includes good UI design, applications and services -- that will make or break a product."

Apple iPhone Makes Touchscreen Mobile Devices Mainstream

Apple's enormously successful iPhone is credited with mainstreaming touchscreens and showing the viability of capacitive touch technology in mobile phones. Gartner predicts most devices will follow the iPhone's lead in using capacitive touchscreen input, but resistive touchscreens will hang on due to lower cost.

Resistive touchscreens detect finger pressure on a touchscreen's glass, while capacitive touchscreens have a field of electrons on the surface and detect motion and input by disruptions in the field.

Gartner also said that Asia/Pacific will lead in touchscreen device sales in 2010. Unit sales are projected to surpass 129.1 million units, accounting for 35.6 percent of the overall global market. Western Europe and North America are expected to account for 26.8 percent and 24.4 percent of sales, respectively.

Western Europe and America are more mature markets, however, with significant existing penetration of touchscreen devices. Such devices will account for 49 percent of total mobile device sales in Western Europe and 46.5 percent in North America, while Asia/Pacific is still growing. In that region, touchscreen devices will represent just 23.4 percent of total mobile device sales.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


mobile, iPhone, Apple, mobile device, touchscreen