By 2016, the global market for mobile processors will reach 1.9 billion units annually. That is according to new NPD In-Stat research, which found that the growth of mobile processors exceeded 43 percent in 2011. And in four years' time, the research firm said that this growth rate will touch 22 percent compound annual growth rate.
Mobile processors are used in applications processors and central processing units. They are commonly used in multifunction devices that are a "fusion of computing, communications, entertainment, and/or productivity capabilities", the firm explained.
Jim McGregor, Chief Technology Strategist at In-Stat, explained: "Although the total available market for mobile processors continues to grow, the emergence of industry leaders in the high-growth mobile device segment is becoming a key factor in the success of processor vendors.
"Just having a captive smartphone and tablet market has propelled Apple into second place for the entire mobile processor market just behind industry leader Intel."
This year, Mr McGregor added, is likely to see Apple seize the top spot in terms of shipments, with the success being driven largely by sales of iPhones and the new iPad, which was launched earlier this month.
Nvidia, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, and Samsung were some of the firms Mr McGregor pointed to as having benefitted from new product releases.
Furthermore, the research confirmed that ARM is the dominant processor architecture for all mobile devices with over 73 percent of all units shipped - and this market dominance is growing. Intel, though, continues to dominate the mobile PC market, while Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung top the list in terms of other CE devices, In-Stat said.
However, the competition between the ARM and x86 processor architectures is set to reach an apex later this year when Microsoft 8, Microsoft's latest operating system, is launched.