Touchcreen market to double in 2010: Gartner

Robert Clark
08 Mar 2010

Sales of touchscreen devices will grow 97% this year and will account for 58% of all mobile device sales by 2013, Gartner predicts.

The research firm said 362.7 million units would ship in 2010, up from 184.3 million last year, and expects touch interface technology to be one of the key areas of innovation during 2010.

Asia-Pacific is the biggest market for touchscreen phones, forecast to account for 35.6% of the global market this year.

By 2013, touchscreen mobile devices will account for 58% of all handset sales worldwide and more than 80% in developed markets such as North America and Western Europe, Gartner said.

Gartner principal research analyst Roberta Cozza said that with more vendors joining the market, prices have fallen and touchscreens are no longer the preserve of high-end devices.

“As phone capabilities increase, consumers are becoming much more aware of the benefits of touch interfaces, and vendors are responding,” she said.

The success of the iPhone had shown the viability of capacitive touch technology in mobile phones, which enabled more natural and intuitive gestures, she said.

Unlike the legacy touchscreen technology – resistive touch – which requires users to push down on the screen, capacitive touch, pioneered in the iPhone, responds to very light touch.

Gartner said the two technologies would coexist in the short term, but expects capacitive touch to become the mainstream technology.

"Vendor and industry focus on touch UI will bring increasing sophistication and spur adoption of touch UI in other consumer electronics devices."

Research analyst CK Lu said vendors needed to focus on delivering an experience rather than just a product.

“Consumers won't buy a mobile device purely for the touch UI,” Lu said. “Touch technology is just an enabler, and ultimately, it is a compelling user experience — which includes good UI design, applications and services — that will make or break a product.”

Lu said vendors should consider integrating touch with other form factors, such as numeric or qwerty keypads, because touch UI cannot fulfil all kinds of operations.

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