According to a report by the market research firm iSuppli, smartphones may see up to an 11.1 percent increase in sales in 2009 even though regular mobile handset sales are slipping.

Their sales forecast predicts two possible scenarios, one optimistic and one pessimistic, but both conclude with only positive figures. The optimistic forecast predicts global smartphone sales to increase 11.1 percent from 2008. The pessimistic forecast predicts a global sales increase of only 6 percent over the same period, but it is an increase nonetheless.

The optimistic scenario would require a few changes to take place in the mobile phone market:

“For the optimistic scenario to come to fruition, wireless network operators must cut fees for data services and offer aggressive subsidies to reduce consumer smart phone prices,” said Tina Teng, an iSuppli senior analyst. “Furthermore, wireless operators and handset brands have to sell consumers on the value of smart phones to encourage customers to upgrade.”

The pessimistic scenario, or the more realistic one, would require nothing to change. The market must just keep heading on its current path.

According to iSuppli’s calcuations, smartphone sales should account for somewhere between 17.4 percent and 16.6 percent of the total mobile phone sales in 2009.

iSuppli believes that applications will be the deciding factor for which companies prevail:

“Applications are everything,” according to iSuppli. “Beyond the friendliness of user interfaces, the availability of a variety of applications is the key factor attracting consumer interest to smart phone products,” writes Teng. “Thus, different players at various segments of the supply-chain are starting to build mini-ecosystems—including applications—in order to attract consumers and gain their loyalty.”

Apple now offers over 20,000 applications through the App Store, and because of its outstanding success, almost every other mobile phone company has followed suit. According to iSuppli’s logic, we can conclude that Apple should continue its domination due to the sheer amount of available applications.

[via Fortune]