According to the latest research from our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service, global LTE smartphone shipments will grow threefold to reach 275 million units in 2013. It will be a record year for 4G technology. Companies leading the growth spurt will include Apple, Samsung, LG and others.

We forecast global LTE smartphone shipments to triple from 90.9 million units in 2012 to 275.0 million in 2013. Major countries driving LTE growth next year will include the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, China and South Korea. Multiple operators, such as Verizon Wireless, Everything Everywhere and NTT Docomo, are aggressively expanding their LTE networks. Key vendors leading the push into LTE smartphones will include Apple, Samsung, LG, Nokia, HTC, Motorola, Blackberry, Huawei, ZTE and Pantech. Popular LTE smartphone models will include Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S3.

It is clear that 2013 will be the year of 4G. LTE smartphone shipments worldwide will exceed a quarter-billion units for the first time. Multiple operators and multiple phone vendors will be launching dozens of LTE models across numerous countries worldwide. LTE has quickly become a high-growth, high-value market that no operator, service developer, component maker or device vendor can afford to ignore.

The global LTE smartphone market will triple in size during 2013. The LTE smartphone market has become highly valuable and we believe it will eventually attract new entrants seeking a slice of the 4G pie, such as Amazon or Mozilla. However, we caution possible new entrants like Amazon will not find it easy to break into the fiercely competitive LTE smartphone market and they will need breakthrough products that are strongly differentiated in areas such as design, price or services.

Exhibit 1: Global LTE Smartphone Shipments Forecast in 2013 [1]

Global Smartphone Shipments (Millions of Units)
2012
2013
LTE
90.9
275.0
 
 
 
Global Smartphone Shipments Growth Year-over-Year  %
2012
2013
LTE
~
202.5%

[1]  Numbers are rounded. The data-table does not include tablets, dongles or any other similar devices or consumer electronics. We define LTE as a fourth-generation (4G) technology.