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Smartphones to ring up boom year

A third of consumers in the Middle East should be looking to buy a news smartphone device, according to a new survey by Nielsen Online,.

About a third of consumers in the Middle East will be looking to buy new smartphones this year, according to a survey released by Nielsen Online.

The findingis consistent with rising demand for other handheld devices, netbooks and tablets as Middle Eastern users are increasingly looking to connect to the internet.

Nielsen Online published a report last year that found that 43 per cent of regional consumers said they planned on using smartphones to access the internet, compared with 51 per cent using computers at home.

That shows that demand to access the web will largely be directed over the next year through mobile devices, said Vishal Bali, the executive director of emerging markets for telecoms for Nielsen.

"If you look at operators and device manufacturers around the Middle East, there's a big push in selling smartphones with packages and special promotions," Mr Bali said. "The demographic of the region tends to be younger, and they're more open to new technology, which helps drive up usage and adoption."

Smartphones, mobile phones that are capable of providing multimedia content, are experiencing a global boom in sales, bucking the trend of traditional handsets that offer less functionality.

According to IDC, a technology consultancy, smartphone shipments in the first half of last year rose 50.4 per cent, or 10 per cent higher than its previous forecast, compared with the same period in 2009.

More than 63 million smartphones were sold in the second quarter of last year, compared with 41.9 million in the same period in 2009. Mr Bali could not provide regional smartphone sales figures but said "smartphones have become a major driving force of providing content in the western world, and now what we're seeing this catching up to other emerging markets."

The Middle Eastern market "is one where affordability is less of a concern than other markets such as Africa, so these figures are not much of a surprise".



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