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Asia-Pacific Fuels the Touch Screen Growth

It's true, touch screens have been available for some time, and are found in a variety of fixed and portable devices, but it was the launch of the Apple iPhone that refocused people's attention.

Shipments in 2007 of touch screen-based mobile devices increased 91 percent over 2006, and ABI Research forecasts that revenue from the global touch screen market for mobile phones and other handheld devices such as MIDs, UMPCs, and PNDs will reach $5 billion in 2009.

"Nearly all mobile handset manufacturers are getting into touch screens to a greater or lesser extent," says research director Kevin Burden. "The acceptance of touch screens to date has varied by geographic region, which has been a significant factor in determining the success of individual handset vendors."

Samsung and Motorola have been the most successful, commanding 33 percent and 30 percent shares of the touch screen mobile phone market respectively.

Samsung and Motorola lead the market for touch screen phones primarily because of their scale and significant presence in the Asian markets. Because it's difficult to represent even a fraction of the common Asian characters on a QWERTY-style keyboard, touch screen devices on which characters can be written with a stylus are immensely popular.

The Asia-Pacific market consumed more than 80 percent of the world's total touch screen-based mobile phone production over the past year. At 24 percent Sony Ericsson has the third-largest market share, while all the other handset vendors -- including Apple -- are essentially niche players.

A number of factors are driving further adoption of touch screen-based mobile devices. Consumers are looking for more intuitive user interfaces and personalization options as device functionality increases.

Also, prices for touch components and panels continue to decrease and are falling on an average of nearly 10 percent per year.

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