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Worldwide shipments of multimedia-enabled mobile phones will exceed 300 million units next year, surpassing shipments of television sets, according to a research report being released this week by MultiMedia Intelligence. Sales of such phones will generate over $76 billion in revenue.
By 2011, about 9 of 10 mobile phones will include basic multimedia capabilities, which consist of an image sensor, MP3 audio support, and video playback. Currently, these capabilities are available in 60% of mobile phones, according to the report.
In general, MultiMedia Intelligence defines basic multimedia phones as those that have at least a 1.0-megapixel camera, MP3 audio and video playback capabilities, Java, USB, Bluetooth, 16-bit screen color, QVGA resolution, as well as Wireless Application Protocol and Multimedia Message Service support.
Wireless carriers view multimedia phones as a great opportunity to attract new subscribers. Consequently, they're turning to leading manufacturers, such as Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, LG Electronics, and Sony Ericsson, for exclusive phones with innovative form factors and multimedia features.
A touch screen will be another prominent feature on mobile phones in the near future. The number of phones with touch screens will reach almost 200 million by 2011.
Chip makers are integrating baseband and applications processors into single chips to create lower-cost multimedia feature phones. One example is Texas Instruments' LoCosto platform. While the development is at present centered on low-end phones, manufacturers will eventually migrate to higher-end phones, the report said.
Despite their reputation for lagging behind Europe and Asia in terms of built-out of next generation networks and introduction of innovative services, wireless carriers in the United States are now rolling out new phones with multimedia features quite frequently.
AT&T on Monday announced the availability of the Shine by LG Electronics, a multimedia phone pre-loaded with music and video features. The phone allows users to send live or recorded video to others during a call, and the ability to transfer songs from their PCs to the Shine, which has an integrated music player.
In addition to making available its iPhone look-alikes, Voyager and Venus by LG Electronics, Verizon Wireless began selling the FlipShot by Samsung, last week. The FlipShot is designed for photo enthusiasts, featuring a built-in 3.0-megapixel camera with digital zoom, camcorder, and a rotating display that positions photos vertically or horizontally for easier viewing.
Sprint and T-Mobile are the other two U.S. carriers with a selection of multimedia phones.