According to a recent IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report, smartphone shipments will account for about 50.15% of the total worldwide mobile phone shipments in 2013. As per the report, smartphone shipments are expected to cross 918 million worldwide.
Decrease in prices, increase in smartphone options and the roll-out of data-centric fourth-generation (4G) wireless networks are three key factors that have made these “do-it-all” devices an increasingly attractive option for users. By the end of 2017, 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 due to these primary factors.
The report found that the balance of smartphone demand is gradually shifting to emerging markets like China, Brazil, and India where smartphone user bases are still relatively small and economic prospects are considerably higher. According to IDC, Smartphone shipments to these emerging markets will comprise a growing percentage of the device type’s volume in each forecast year. The smartphone demand in these regions is primarily driven by the growing middle class that is prepared to buy smartphones.
According to the report, the top five markets for smartphone shipments are China, United States, India, Brazil and the UK.
The report shows that China will easily remain the world’s largest market for smartphones, specifically low-cost handsets based on the Android operating system and to a lesser degree iOS. While shipment volume to the country will remain at the top, growth will slow towards the end of the forecast period.
While smartphone users constitute the majority of all mobile phone users in the United States, IDC expects slower growth in the years ahead.
According to the report, India’s year-over-year smartphone shipment growth will be the highest among the top countries by a wide margin as the vast majority of the country’s wireless subscriber base currently use feature phones. The smartphone market is expected to grow due to a variety of factors including greater availability of low-cost devices and additional sales emphasis by top-flight vendors on less populous parts of the country. In addition, 3G network coverage will continue to expand while 4G networks are expected to stimulate smartphone growth from 2015 onwards.
Smartphone growth in Brazil is expected to remain high over the course of the forecast as its economic fortunes improve. Wireless service providers are offering greater subsidies to drive smartphone sales with an eye on higher data revenue streams in the future. The successful rollout of Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks in Brazil is key to the country’s smartphone market growth.
The report also found that growth of the United Kingdom smartphone market has slowed considerably in recent quarters as penetration has risen and economic growth remains minimal at best, which has led to consumer trepidation. The size of the market and its wealth relative to much of Western Europe will make it a smartphone volume leader over the forecast given the ongoing transition to LTE networks and continued high carrier subsidies.