Smartphones are selling faster than previously predicted by IHS iSuppli and will make up more than half of global cell phone shipments next year.

The company updated its prediction Tuesday. Just last year, IHS iSuppli said smartphones would not hit the halfway point of global cell phone shipments until 2015, said Wayne Lam, an analyst for IHS.

IHS now expects smartphones to make up 54% of the overall cell phone market in 2013. They will comprise 46% of the total this year and represented 35% in 2011.

Lam noted that smartphones in the last year have dropped in price as more models have become available. That combination has resulted in sales of both low-cost smartphones in Asia-Pacific countries and mid-range and pricier smartphones in the U.S. and Europe.

Lam also envisions double-digit growth in smartphone shipments in the next few years. By 2016, smartphones will account for more than two-thirds of all cell phones, or 67.4%.

IDC last week said smartphones represented the majority of cell phone shipments for the first time in China in the second quarter of 2012. In that quarter, 44 million smartphones were shipped in China, 51% of all cell phones sold, IDC said.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is [email protected].

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