The use of touchscreens on mobile phones is already soaring, and the introduction of a new line of small computing devices designed to connect people to the internet is also fuelling their use, a manufacturing executive said on Thursday.

The touchscreen market will grow to a value of $3.1bn this year from $2.78bn last year, said Kevin Chuang, an executive at Swenc Technology, at a conference in Taipei.

Three trends are driving the market, starting with the iPhone craze, he said. But what really boosted volume handset sales was a chip developed by Taiwan's MediaTek that made it easy for companies to put touchscreens on handsets. MediaTek's main customers are in China, and the chips have been used in scores of handsets there, he said.

A new category of devices is also coming out that is increasing touchscreen use, known variously as ultramobile PCs (UMPCs), mobile internet devices (MIDs) and a growing list of alternative names.

"Most people buying iPhones today are using them more for accessing internet content than even for phone calls," he said. That's a sign ultramobile PCs and the like will probably find a place in global markets.

Swenc Technology is a producer of touchscreen components. Chuang was speaking at a DisplaySearch conference in Taipei.