Analysts: 1.2 billion smartphones, tablets to be sold in 2013

Forecast for 821 million 'smart devices' this year

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Analysts are predicting that it's wise to be in the smartphone and tablet business right now, with a forecast of 1.2 billion "smart devices" to be sold worldwide in 2013.

This figure is up from the 821 million devices that technology research firm Gartner is predicting for this year.

Crossing that billion-sold mark will be due in part to businesses and IT departments being influenced by their workers' demands.

"BYOD [is] becoming a part of the devices policy," said Gartner Research Vice President Carolina Milanesi in a press release.

"We have seen consumer preferences shaping not only the vendors' landscape but also the way IT departments need to think about devices in the enterprise."

Predictions into 2016

Gartner analysts predict that 70 percent of total devices sold in 2012 will be "smart devices," which is defined as smartphones and tablets.

"In 2016, two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone, and 40 percent of the workforce will be mobile," said Milanesi.

Tablets will be the key accelerator to mobility, according to analysts who are meeting in at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2012 in Barcelona this week.

The firm estimates that businesses will purchase 13 million tablets this year and more than triple that number by 2016, reaching 53 million units sold.

"For most businesses smartphones and tablets will not entirely replace PCs," explained Milanesi.

"But the ubiquity of smartphones and the increasing popularity of tablets are changing the way businesses look at their device strategies and the way consumers embrace devices."

The smart money Android smart devices

Google's Android operating system will be the biggest beneficiary of this ever-increasing smart device sales trend.

By 2016, Gartner estimates that the Android OS will account for 56 percent of smartphones sold to businesses in North America and Europe.

That is up from 34 percent in 2012 and virtually no penetration in 2010, says the firm.

"Today the wide range of brands and price points that the Android ecosystem is offering is winning over users," said Milanesi.

"While Apple remains the heartbeat by which the market moves, Google has rapidly become its archrival."

Windows 8 the third wheel as RIM loses ground

Gartner sees Windows 8 as a strong No. 3 tablet OS by 2016, with demand coming from businesses as opposed to consumers.

"Tablets and convertibles will be the way into businesses for Windows 8," predicted the firm.

Windows 8 tablets and ultramobiles in businesses will reach 39 percent in 2016, estimated Gartner.

Milanesi didn't lay out such a rosy forecast for RIM and its line of Blackberry devices.

"As businesses are looking for a multi-device strategy and a rich application portfolio it is clear that RIM has a huge challenge ahead in regaining its key presence in the enterprise."

Via Gartner