Smartphone shipments to hit 1B -- up 40% -- in 2013

Low-cost smartphones and sales into emerging countries drive a resurgence in overall mobile phone business

By , Computerworld |  Mobile & Wireless, smartphones

Sub-$200 smartphones and robust sales of smartphones in emerging countries are driving a rebound in the worldwide mobile phone market this year, IDC said Wednesday.

Overall mobile phone growth was flat at 1.2% in 2012, but should grow by 7.3% in 2013, IDC forecast. IDC had previously projected the 2013 growth rate at 5.8%, but changed its view after a strong first half of 2013.

Smartphone shipments will reach 1 billion in all of 2013 for the first time, up 40% over 2012. Overall mobile phone shipments should reach 1.8 billion in 2013, IDC said.

"Two years ago, the worldwide smartphone market flirted with shipping half a billion units for the first time," said Ramon Llamas, an IDC analyst. "To double that [amount] in just two years highlights the ubiquity of smartphones."

Smartphones have become essential to consumers, Llamas added.

By 2017, smartphones will make up nearly the entire mobile phone market in developed countries, including the the U.S., IDC said.

Android and iOS will remain the clear first and second most popular mobile operating systems through 2017. Android is expected to account for 75.3% of all smartphones shipped in 2013, with Samsung the top Android supplier.

Apple's iOS will hold 16.9% of the market through 2013, while Windows Phone will have 3.9% and BlackBerry 2.7%, IDC said.

Now that Microsoft is buying the mobile devices business of Nokia, IDC believes that support by other phone makers for Windows Phone will wane. Microsoft will also need to shop more low-cost smartphones to emerging market countries to build on its share of that market, IDC advised.

Apple is expected to gain share by 2017, to as much as 17.9%, partly due to an expected distribution deal with China Mobile that will give it reach into China's fast-growing smartphone market.

IDC last week trimmed its forecast for 2013 for tablet shipments by 1% partly because new larger smartphones and expected wearable computing devices will take dollars that consumers might have spent on tablets.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

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