2012 Will Be “Breakout Year” For 4G LTE Phones

Strategy Analytics is predicting that 2012 will be the year when 4G LTE smartphones hit the big time, in its latest Global Handset Shipments Forecast for 2012.

The analyst firm is estimating that total global handset shipments will hit 1.8 billion this year, with Africa, Asia and Latin America becoming the fastest growing regions in terms of mobiles.

4G LTE will experience a serious growth spurt in countries where the tech has been rolled out, with the "breakout year" coming to the US, Japan and South Korea. The prediction is that globally, LTE phone shipments will increase no less than tenfold, hitting 67 million units in 2012. Apple, Samsung, Nokia and HTC are cited as the manufacturers leading this growth explosion.

The Next Web quotes Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, as saying: "The mobile industry is entering a breakout year for 4G LTE technology. Multiple operators and multiple phone vendors will be launching dozens of LTE models across numerous countries worldwide. LTE has quickly become a high-growth, high-value market that no operator, service developer, device vendor or component maker can afford to ignore."

Mawston rightly points to one spectre that super-fast mobile broadband will cause to appear - expensive data plans as phones chomp through streaming video or similar more intensive online tasks.

Not that we'll have to worry about that in the UK for a while yet. 4G LTE could be here in a very limited fashion courtesy of Everything Everywhere at the close of the year, but Ofcom is currently being hauled over the coals by rival networks, and may yet think better of giving the green light to EE's head-start.