The release of Apple's much-ballyhooed iPhone on Friday is expected to give a boost to the emerging, multi-purpose cellphone market and possibly even help rival "smartphone" devices.
The global market for smartphones -- devices that include telephone service, the Internet, e-mail, music, a camera and videos -- will reach US$100 million this year, or 10 percent of the 1 billion cellphones sold worldwide, analyst firms Canalys and IDC said.
More than 1 billion smartphones are expected to be sold by 2010-2012 as they gradually replace regular cellphones.
The current leaders in the multi-purpose phone market include the BlackBerry of Canadian firm Research in Motion (RIM) and recent models created by Nokia, Palm and Motorola.
"We are still at an early stage of market development, with businesses and consumers only scratching the surface of what is and will be possible with such devices," Canalys analyst Nick Spencer said.
Several devices are battling for a limited number of consumers, but none are thriving as connectivity remains slow, said Jonah Bloom, editor-in-chief of marketing magazine AdAge.
Experts say Apple will face stiff competition from Finnish firm Nokia's N95 device, which like the iPhone can be turned horizontally to make the screen wider for videos.
"We think the buzz [from the iPhone] is very good," Samsung Telecommunications America vice president Peter Skarzynski told reporters. "It helps people understand the convergence of phones and music players."
The iPhone shared the top spot with the BlackBerry in a ChangeWave Research survey of people who plan to buy an advanced phone in the next three months, a sign the iPhone may take market share from rivals.
The survey found that 26 percent of likely buyers would choose the iPhone, a combination mobile phone and iPod that will go on sale on June 29. The study was conducted in April.
In the survey, 10 percent of those planning to buy an advanced mobile phone said they would choose a Palm device, putting the company in third place. Samsung Electronics Co was fourth with 7 percent, followed by Motorola Inc with 5 percent and Nokia Oyj with 3 percent.