Smartphone shipments are expected to surpass one billion during 2013, with that figure foreseen to approach the two billion mark.
According to a preview of a Deloitte report, the publication's definition of a smartphone is handsets are "smart" should they sport touch screens, full keyboards and run apps, as opposed to what OS they run on. The industry standard of what defines a smartphone is generally its operating system such as Android, iOS or Windows Phone.
"In 2013, any full touch-screen based device, and in some markets, any device with a full QWERTY keyboard, might be described by manufacturers, presented by salespeople, or perceived by purchasers as a smartphone," the report said. "However in marketing and in stores there is no enforceable rule on what can or cannot be promoted as a smartphone, and the smartphone moniker is likely to describe an increasingly diverse range of capabilities."
Deloitte believes that about one in five smartphone owners rarely or may never connect to the web. It expects hundreds of millions of smartphone owners don't utilize a data package and instead use them as traditional feature phones.
"The shrinking availability of feature phones is mostly due to the fact that manufacturers, especially those with smaller scale, may not find it viable to develop their own proprietary operating system (OS) and prefer to use the available open source OSs," Deloitte said. "Some smaller manufacturers may simply find it unviable to manufacture 2G feature phones and focus on entry-level 3G smartphones instead: a third party OS could be used, and margins may be higher."
"Smartphones have been a phenomenal success and are likely to remain so in 2013," the publication added. "However, while smartphones' shipments and installed base should continue to grow, they are likely to be used in different ways by different users."
During 2012's third quarter, smart-connected devices, which constitutes of PCs, smartphones and tablets, shipped 303.6 million units.