The average capacity of removable memory cards for cellphones will hit 26 Gigabytes by 2012, according to a research firm.

Boston-based Strategy Analytics made the prediction in a recent report on the world-wide market for memory cards aimed at cell and smartphones.

The average capacity of a card for these devices was only 517 megabytes last year, the report said, but that will grow an average of 120 per cent over the next four years.

It also predicts revenue from sales of removable cards for phones to grow from US$4.8 billion in 2007 to almost US$11.3 billion in 2012.

In terms of volume, card sales for cellphones totaled 535 million in 2007, up from 309 million in 2006, and are forecast to grow to 990 million in 2012.

The 256MB card, which was the most common card sold in cellphones in Q4 2007, will slowly lose share. In contrast, 4GB cards, which accounted for around three per cent of all sales in Q4 2007, will represent over 10 per cent of cellphone card sales by the fourth quarter of this year.

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“Card capacity growth in cellphones is being driven primarily by increased penetration of music players, megapixel cameras and office applications,” Steve Entwistle, vice-president of the strategic technologies practice at Strategy Analytics, said in a news release.

“This has resulted in a huge increase in the storage of music, video and e-mail files on phones. This trend is expected to accelerate as demand continues to grow at well over 100 per cent per year.”

Stuart Robinson, director of the research company’s handset component technologies service, added that while the price per megabyte for cards is declining at around 60 per cent per year, “cellphone card capacity is doubling faster than at Moore’s Law rates, resulting in a slight increase in the overall average price of cards.”