iPhone 5 key to push smartphone numbers beyond one billion says analyst firm

NPD Displaysearch has released a report hours before the launch of the iPhone 5.

The analyst firm identifies the device as a key product for the smartphone market in the second half of 2012 as the whole industry sees lower than expected shipment of new smartphones.

The firm has downgraded its 2012 forecast of new purchases from 230 million to 177 million, a drop of around nearly a quarter, although Apple is likely to steam ahead (the company sold more than 140 million smartphones in 2010 and 2011) and maintain the pressure on other vendors with its annual refresh cycle.

According to NPD Displaysearch, the smartphone shipments will rise to 567 million in 2012 and that number will surpass one billion as early as 2016 as the feature phone category dies out and refresh cycles shorten because the average price of smartphones will be significantly lower by then.

ITProPortal will be reporting live on Apple’s announcement later tonight so make sure you stick with us and bookmark our live blog as we find out more about the new products and services launched by the tech giant.

Other than the iPhone 5, we expect to see a cheaper version of the iPhone 4S, an iPad mini and potentially a 13in Macbook Pro with Retina Display.