Mobile Device Shipments to Top 2.6 Billion by 2016

There's a mobile movement taking place, spurred by increasingly powerful smartphones and tablets, more efficient processor technology (Tegra's 4-Plus-1 design, for example), and thinner form factors. The result of this perfect storm of mobility is that by 2016, worldwide mobile device shipments will reach 2.6 billion units, according to the latest forecasts from Canalys.

Canalys isn't just figuring smartphones and tablets, it's also including feature phones and notebook PCs. However, Canalys says tablets will be the fastest growing category with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35 percent. After that, smartphones will experience the most growth with a CAGR of 18 percent, and will overtake feature phone shipments for the first time by the end of this year.

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All this will benefit Android the most, which Canalys predicts will peak at 71 percent market share this year, dropping to 66 percent by 2016. And what of BlackBerry's recent push back into relevance?

"Just three years ago BlackBerry had more than 20 percent of the global smartphone market. While Canalys does not expect BlackBerry to return to that high in the coming years, it does have an opportunity to win back some of the lost customers, especially those that miss the BlackBerry keyboard. However, for it to achieve this, the new operating system must filter down through its portfolio in the next year," said Chris Jones, Canalys VP and Principal Analyst.

When it comes to tablets, Canalys says Apple will retain its lead over the next five years, though it's share of the market will drop from 57 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2016.