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2011 Wrap-up. 2012 Predictions, Part I.

19th December 2011

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The mobile device market bounced back a little in 2011 from the lows in 2010, although 2012 promises to be another tough year which may shake out under-performing manufacturers. As part of our end-of-year wrap-up we look back at 2011 and try to predict what might happen in 2012. You can see the predictions we made last year here.

2012 Predictions

If hardware vendors had their way, 2011 would have been the year of the tablet. However, hardly anybody made any headway against the mighty iPad, and it is likely that a few manufacturers may call it quits during 2012.

During 2012, Apple's iOS powered devices and Android smartphones will dominate the market. The fight for third place is likely to be taken by Windows Phone since Nokia's deal with Microsoft finally put that OS on the map. It is hard to see where any other operating systems will fit in to this consolidating market.

2012 should finally see the effective death of the feature phone, as we expect to see Android devices available for less than €100 by the end of the year. There will continue to be a market for ultra-cheap handsets dominated by Samsung and Nokia though, especially for emerging markets.

2011 saw camera pixel counts topping out at around 5 to 8 megapixels, but mostly featuring 720p or 1080p HD video capture. Consumers are beginning to understand that pixel counts are not the most important thing when it comes to picture quality, so expect manufacturers to improve the quality of the captures by improving sensors and lenses during 2012.

Screen sizes are going to be an area of growth during 2012, with displays in the 4-inch-plus size becoming much more common. Apple is expected to launch a bigger screen version of the iPhone too during 2012.

Smartphones and tablets are getting more powerful, and as during 2011 there will be an increasing amount of interest in processor speeds, cores, RAM, graphics capabilities and internal flash storage. To a very large extent, smartphones are turning into computers.. and of course tablets are nearly there anyway.

Wordle: Mobile Gazette's 2011 wrap-up, 2012 predictionsWorldwide we expect to see a rapid growth in LTE (4G) and HSPA+ (near-4G) networks, although many consumers still struggle to get a decent 3G signal in some areas.

NFC has been a slow burn during 2011, but 2012 should see NFC support as standard in all but the cheapest devices. It's still a solution looking for a problem though and there is very little usage of NFC in the real world.

Away from the technologies, 2012 will likely be a very tough year for manufacturers and we would expect to see manufacturers merge operations with rivals or pull-out of markets completely during the year.

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