mobile devicesWorldwide shipments of smart connected devices rose 29.1% year-over-year (y-o-y) in 2012, exceeding the 1 billion-unit mark and valued at $576.9 billion. Surging tablet shipments was the primary driver, rising 78.4% y-o-y to surpass 128 million, according to the latest report from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Smart Connected Device Tracker.

Taken together, 4Q 2012 shipments of desktop and notebook PCs, tablets and smartphones totaled nearly 378 million units with associated revenue of over $168 billion, according to an IDC press release.

Apple gained significant ground on market-leading Samsung in 4Q12. The combination of the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini drove Apple’s market share up to 20.3% of unit shipments as compared to Samsung’s 21.2%. Apple continued to lead equipment manufacturers in terms of revenue, accounting for 30.7% as compared to a 20.2% share for Samsung.

Tablet shipments will exceed desktop PC shipments this year and portable PC, or laptop/notebook, shipments in 2014, IDC predicts. Global desktop PC shipments will slide 4.3% in 2013, while portable PC shipments will show flat, moderate growth of 0.9%.

In contrast, IDC forecasts global tablet shipments will rise 48.7% y-o-y this year to reach a new high of 190 million units shipped. Global smartphone shipments are forecast to increase 27.2% to 918.5 million.

Looking at smart connected device shipments regionally, they increased 41.3% y-o-y in emerging markets in 2012, with tablets again leading the way by rising 111.3%. Smartphone shipments in emerging markets rose 69.7%. Shipments in mature markets, in contrast, rose 15.6%, with PC shipments taking a sharp plunge last year.

Looking out over a five-year horizon, IDC predicts global shipments of smart connected devices will continue to surge, exceeding 2.2 billion units with associated revenue of $814.3 billion in 2017.

“Consumers and business buyers are now starting to see smartphones, tablets, and PCs as a single continuum of connected devices separated primarily by screen size,” added Bob O’Donnell, IDC Program Vice President for Clients and Displays. “Each of these devices is primarily used for data applications and different individuals choose different sets of screen sizes in order to fit their unique needs. These kinds of developments are creating exciting new opportunities that will continue to drive the smart connected devices market forward in a positive way.”

IDC sees huge growth potential for tablets and smartphones in emerging markets through 2017. Tablet unit shipments will treble and amass $125 billion in revenue during this period, while smartphone unit shipments will double and amass some $462 billion in revenue. Portable PCs will experience moderate, single-digit growth and desktop PC unit shipments are expected to decline consistently year over year with almost no growth in 2017.

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