Smartphones are expected to outship feature phones for the first time in 2013, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).
The IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker indicates that vendors will ship 918.6 million smartphones in 2013 – 50.1% of the total mobile phone shipments worldwide.
Smartphone prices have fallen globally, the smartphone strata are wider than ever, and the roll-out of data-centric fourth-generation (“4G” or LTE) wireless networks are three factors that have made these “do-it-all” devices an increasingly attractive option for users, the IDC said.
By the end of 2017, the IDC forecasts 1.5 billion smartphones will be shipped worldwide, which equates to just over two-thirds of the total mobile phone forecast for the year.
The IDC identified 5 key markets which were churning smartphone growth, namely China, the United States, India, Brazil and the United Kingdom.
“While we don’t expect China’s smartphone growth to maintain the pace of a runaway train as it has over the last two years, there continue to be big drivers to keep the market growing as it leads the way to ever-lower smartphone prices and the country’s transition to 4G networks is only just beginning,” said Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager, IDC Asia/Pacific.
“Even as China starts to mature, there remains enormous untapped potential in other emerging markets like India, where we expect less than half of all phones shipped there to be smartphones by 2017, and yet it will weigh in as the world’s third largest market.”
Japan is currently one of the biggest smartphone markets, though the IDC forecasts that by 2017, it would have dropped to 6th place.
Top Five Countries Smartphone Shipments and Market Share, 2013 and 2017 (Units in Millions)
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