Demand for Apple Inc.'s iPhone and Google Inc.'s Nexus One will help propel smart-phone sales past those of personal computers in two years, Gartner Inc. forecasts.
Smart-phone sales will more than triple to 491.9 million units by 2012 from 139.3 million in 2008, according to Gartner, a Stamford, Conn., research firm. The PC market will expand to 443.1 million units from 290.8 million in the same period, Gartner predicted.
"Smart phones are headed toward that billion-unit category that handsets are in today," said Jim McGregor, an analyst at research firm In-Stat in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The rise of the smart phone has prompted the computer industry to respond with its own products in an attempt to retain control over consumer access to the Internet. The smart phones, which include the iPhone and BlackBerry, provide data streams and Internet usage.
Intel Corp., the largest maker of computer chips, has revived an earlier attempt to get its processors into phones. So far, only LG Electronics Inc. has said it will make a phone using an Intel chip. Microsoft Corp., the biggest maker of computer software, unveiled a new version of its Windows mobile phone operating system this month, aiming to hold off gains made by Apple and Google.
Apple fired up interest in phones that double as handheld computers with the first iPhone, introduced in 2007.
Google, owner of the world's most visited search engine, since responded with the Nexus One handset and Android operating system, which is being used by phone makers such as Motorola Inc.