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Smartphone shipments neared 300 million in 2010

A surge in shipments of smartphones during 2010 saw 295 million units shipped - a 74 per cent increase over 2009, according to a research report by Berg Insight.

The researchers reckon shipments of smarter mobiles will reach 1.2 billion units in 2015 - a compound annual growth rate of 32.4 per cent.

There are now an estimated 470 million active smartphone users on the planet, if Berg's research is to believed. The number crunchers reckon this figure will reach 2.8 billion in 2015.

The rapid growth is attributed to the fact that users are embracing the phones as personal computing devices, making greater use of the mobile web and connected applications, alongside traditional voice and text services.

The primary growth will come from medium- and low-end smartphones, the researchers reckon. "Chipset developers and handset vendors are working on technologies that will ensure a good user experience also for low cost smartphones", said Andre Malm, senior analyst of Berg Insight. "The challenge is to develop a handset with enough memory, graphics performance and processing power to run the operating system with multiple applications while ensuring a responsive system with fluid user interface and still keep costs down".

According to Malm, dual- and quad-core processors will enable smartphones to rival and replace gaming consoles and notebook PCs.