The worldwide smartphone market reached yet another milestone, having shipped one billion units in a single year for the first time. According to the International Data Corp. (IDC), for the first time shipments of smartphones exceeded one billion of units per year in 2013. Without any surprises, Samsung Electronics remained on top and outsold its main rival Apple by 2:1 on unit base.
"Among the top trends driving smartphone growth are large screen devices and low cost. Of the two, I have to say that low cost is the key difference maker. Cheap devices are not the attractive segment that normally grabs headlines, but IDC data shows this is the portion of the market that is driving volume. Markets like China and India are quickly moving toward a point where sub-$150 smartphones are the majority of shipments, bringing a solid computing experience to the hands of many," said Ryan Reith, program director with IDC's worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker.
Various manufacturers shipped a total of 1004.2 million smartphones worldwide, up 38.4% from the 725.3 million units in 2012. This aligns with IDC's most recent forecast of 1010.4 million units, making for a difference of less than 1%. Smartphones accounted for 55.1% of all mobile phone shipments in 2013, up from the 41.7% of all mobile phone shipments in 2012. In the fourth quarter of 2013 (Q4 2013), vendors shipped a total of 284.4 million smartphones worldwide, up 24.2% from the 229.0 million units shipped in Q4 2012.
In the worldwide mobile phone market (inclusive of smartphones), vendors shipped 1821.8 million units, up 4.8% from the 1,738.1 million units shipped 2012. In Q4 2013 alone, vendors shipped a total of 488.4 million units worldwide, up 0.9% from the 484.0 million units shipped in Q4 2012. This is 2.8% lower than the 502.4 million units that IDC had recently forecast.
"The sheer volume and strong growth attest to the smartphone's continued popularity in 2013. Total smartphone shipments reached 494.4 million units worldwide in 2011, and doubling that volume in just two years demonstrates strong end-user demand and vendor strategies to highlight smartphones," said Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's mobile phone team.