Worldwide smartphone shipments will exceed 1 billion units for the first time in a single year in 2013, fueling a rebound in mobile phone shipments after lackluster growth in 2012, said IDC. Revising its initial 2013 prediction of 5.8% growth upwards, the research firm said the global mobile phone market will post growth of 7.3% this year, having increased just 1.2% in 2012. The increase is driven higher by 40% year over year growth in smartphone shipments, IDC said.
IDC now forecasts mobile phone shipments will total 1.8 billion units globally this year and grow to over 2.3 billion in 2017. Stronger than expected demand for smart phones across all world regions in this year’s first half prompted IDC to revise its 2013 forecast upwards. Particularly strong were unit shipments in emerging markets and the sub-$200 smartphone market segments, according to a press release.
Smartphone shipments will make up an ever larger share of global mobile phone shipments in coming years, IDC says. By 2017, smartphone shipments will reach 1.7 billion units of the 2.3 billion total mobile phones shipped worldwide, the Framingham, Massachusetts-based market research firm forecasts.
“Two years ago, the worldwide smartphone market flirted with shipping half a billion units for the first time – to double that in just two years highlights the ubiquity that smartphones have achieved,” elaborated research manager of IDC’s mobile phone team Ramon Llamas. “The smartphone has gone from being a cutting-edge communications tool to becoming an essential component in the everyday lives of billions of consumers.
“Smartphones will represent virtually all of the mobile phone market in many of the world’s most developed economies by the end of 2017,” added IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker senior research analyst Kevin Restivo. “Aggressive carrier subsidies of handsets, falling prices, higher consumer awareness, and a vast array of devices will mean almost all phones shipped to the developed world will be ‘smart.’ However, smartphone shipment volume will be dominated by emerging markets, such as China, even though the percentage of smartphones to feature phones won’t be as high.”
Looking at the future of mobile operating systems, IDC anticipates Android and iOS will continue to dominate the market. What’s more unclear is what the future portends for BlackBerry and Windows Phone. The latter “inched ahead of BlackBerry during the first half of 2013,” IDC analysts note, “and we believe that will extend into the future.”
Looking out to 2013, IDC forecasts Android’s global share of the smartphone operating system market will contract from 75.3% in 2013 to 68.3% in 2017, while that for iOS will increase from 16.9% to 17.9%. Windows Phone will see comparatively large percentage gains in market share, increasing from 3.9% this year to 10.2% in 2017, while BlackBerry’s share is forecast to contract from 2.7% to 1.7%.