Worldwide smartphone sales will grow by 29 per cent year-over-year to reach 180 million units in 2009, overtaking notebooks in total unit terms according to Gartner Inc.

Currently smartphones account for 14 per cent of overall mobile device sales, but Gartner expects by 2012 they will make up around 37 per cent of global handset sales.

Smartphone revenue is forecast to reach $191 million by 2012, higher than end user spending on mobile PCs, which is forecast to reach $152 million in 2012. From 2009, user spending on smartphones will start to surpass the forecast for consumer notebooks.

The major PC vendors have taken notice of booming smartphone sales and Gartner expects that, by then end of 2009, they will have announced their aim to have a presence in the smartphone market.

Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner, said that as mobile PCs and smartphone capabilities converge, smartphones will increasingly represent a market opportunity that most PC vendors feel they cannot afford to ignore, but they will face tough challenges.

“PC vendors should realise that while convergence of technologies offers an opportunity to enter into the smartphone arena, the business models, go to market and positioning of products is very different from the PC market,” said Ms Cozza. “PC vendors will find it difficult to simply use existing supply chains and channels to expand their presence in the smartphone market. The smartphone and notebook markets are governed by different rules when it comes to successfully marketing and selling products.”

PC vendors have traditionally introduced smartphones based on the Windows Mobile platform, which have mainly attracted business users. PC vendors will face extreme challenges in having to adapt and base their smartphone offerings on a consumer-focused value proposition, largely based on short life cycles, fashion design, hardware and software platform diversity. Different consumer usage scenarios will demand PC vendors build a thorough understanding of consumer behaviour.

Gartner does not expect the share of any single PC vendor to rise above 2 per cent in the smartphone market during the next three years.