updated 01:00 pm EDT, Fri March 23, 2012
Total sales expected to reach 67m
Global LTE phone shipments may jump by a factor of ten this year, according to an outlook report published by research firm Strategy Analytics. The total number of LTE-equipped handsets is expected to reach 67 million units, up from 6.8 million units in 2011, as the technology is embraced by companies such as Apple.
The forecast assumes that Apple will build its next iPhone with an LTE radio. The company has yet to confirm such plans, however the iPad has transitioned to LTE and a variety of rumors suggest Apple's iconic smartphone will follow the same path.
"Major countries driving LTE growth this year will include the United States, Japan and South Korea," says Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Shah.
Strategy analytics director Tom Kang cautions that the expansion is likely to be met with "growing pains" due to the lingering concerns over battery life, expensive devices, and "bill shock" from excessive data consumption.
"LTE has quickly become a high-growth, high-value market that no operator, service developer, device vendor or component maker can afford to ignore," added Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston.