Lee Williams, chief of the Symbian Foundation, is confident that sales of smartphones will remain buoyant with growth of 12-15 per cent in 2009.

While his forecast falls short of some estimates which predict 30 per cent increases, it underlines the growing confidence felt in the smartphone sector of the mobile market.

This is expected to be boosted with the launch of the Palm Pre on June 6th – and the scene is all set for what is likely to be an exciting summer for the smartphone industry.

Speaking at the Reuters Global Technology summit in Paris earlier this week, Williams said larger display sizes and more memory for media such as music were also encouraging consumers to buy smartphones.

"For the first time people are realizing you don’t have to carry your digital camera with you and your phone, for the first time people are realizing that you can do your email and access Internet services on your mobile phone," he said.

Williams’ comments were echoed by Frank Esser chief executive of France’s second-largest mobile operator SFR.

He said the company was seeing strong demand for smartphones.

This growth, couple with the contractions taking place in the wider mobile market, will see smartphones becoming increasingly widespread as mass market devices.

A report just published shows that smartphone sales grew 12.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 despite sharply fallings sales of mobile phones generally – down 9.4 per cent year-on-year.

Sehat Sutardja, chief executive of Marvell Technology, said smartphones will make up half of the mobile phone market in the next few years.

He predicted multimedia-enabled smartphones will account for at least 50 per cent of all mobile phones in the next three to four years, and grow even more popular in the following years.

"Smartphones today are only addressing the tip of the pyramid," he told the Reuters Global Technology Summit in New York.

"I would say in the next three to four years, at least 50 per cent of the market will move to smartphones."

Sutardja said this could grow to 90 per cent in six to seven years.

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