Smartphones to Make Up Majority of New Cell-Phone Sales in 2012

Smartphones will make up more than half of the total number of U.S. cell phones shipped next year, In-Stat projects. In a report released Tuesday, the research firm also estimated that manufacturers will ship almost 850 million smartphones worldwide -- or about one phone for every dozen people -- by 2015.

Smartphones have continued to gain popularity as a result of Apple's (AAPL) iPhone, first introduced in 2007 and now in its fourth generation, and Google's (GOOG) Android platform, which has helped enable manufacturers to challenge the iPhone's leadership position. As prices fall and more devices come out, their popularity will only increase, according to In-Stat.

The company expects the Android platform to become the most popular operating system, and forecasts that shipments of Symbian handsets also will continue to rise.

Others also expect smartphone shipments to continue to surge. Back in December, Strategy Analytics projected that worldwide shipments of touchscreen smartphones would jump almost eightfold from 2009 sales to 355 million by 2015.

Meanwhile, Gartner in September predicted that the use of mobile-communication devices would more than triple, from 2009 and 2014, to almost 574 million devices, primarily because of smartphone growth