A new report from IMS Research suggests that consumer demand for touchscreen handsets is about to explode - with roughly a 200 million increase between now and 2012.

IMS Research forecasts that, although there were fewer than 30 million touchscreen phones sold in 2007, the number is set to increase to over 230 million in the next 4 years.

This month, LG revealed that it had sold 7 million touchscreen handsets, with the announcement coming five quarters after LG launched its very first touchscreen mobile phone.

Samsung's Instinct, a full touchscreen handset available in the States, has become operator Sprint's best selling EV-DO device in the carrier’s history, while Apple reported selling 1 million iPhone 3G handsets in the first 3 days of its release.

According to IMS Research analyst and report author Femi Omoni, "The original iPhone was the catalyst that created this huge market interest in touchscreen phones. The fact that it was not only popular with consumers, but also helped drive data revenues proved how important touchscreen handsets can be. Now all of the network operators and handset manufacturers want a piece of the pie".

And, with Nokia announcing that its coming soon touchscreen-based phones will be targeted at the "volume market", it could be argued that these figures are only set to grow.