New touch screens to take cell phones by storm

With less than a week to go before the launch of Apple's iPhone, one may get the impression that the days of traditional phone keypads are numbered. According to an AP report published by Yahoo News, market research firm iSuppli has published a report that predicts a massive increase in the popularity of phones with touch screens. The firm says about 38 million cell phones—4% of the total market—featured touch screens in 2006, but that the number will more than double to 90 million by 2012.

That number does include both traditional touch screens (based on resistive touch technology) and new, iPhone-style touch screens based on projected capacitive technology. If one looks only at the latter, shipments seem set to rise much more dramatically. iSuppli says 200,000 touch screens based on the projected capacitive design were sold in 2006, but by 2012, shipments will reach more than 21 million. iSuppli believes the bulk will find their way into cell phones, although some of those units may go to other devices. According to the CEO of Synaptics, whose sensors are featured in the LG Prada phone, the new style of touch screen-based interfaces "will be like a tsunami, hitting an entire spectrum of devices."

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