Worldwide smartphone shipments to top 1 billion by 2016, says NPD DisplaySearch

This year shipments of smartphone are forecast to reach 567 million, a figure which will nearly double by 2016, according to a NPD DisplaySearch.

“Apple’s iPhone 5 will be a key product for the smartphone market in 2H’12,” said Hiroshi Hayase, VP, Small/Medium Displays for NPD DisplaySearch. “Apple shipped more than 140 million phones in 2010 and 2011, so we can expect smartphone shipments to continue flourishing as users upgrade to the new iPhone.”

Apple sold more than 5 million iPhone 5s in the first three days, and the company said initial demand exceeded supply. Despite the interest in the iPhone 5, the volume of new smartphone shipments is lower than expected, said the research firm.

NPD DisplaySearch downgraded its 2012 forecast of new purchases from 220-230 million to 177 million. The volume of replacement phones, however, is expected to increase as new smartphones enter the market.

“The timing of mobile phone contracts can also impact the smartphone market,” said Hayase. “More service providers are likely to shorten mobile phone replacement cycles in an effort to boost sales.”

The NPD DisplaySearch forecast is part of its new “Smartphones: Displays, Designs and Functionality” report, which analyzes smartphone displays and the market.