IDC forecasts 1 billion smartphones this year

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The worldwide mobile phone market will grow 7.3 per cent year on year in 2013, marking a sharp rebound from the 1.2 per cent growth of last year. And annual smartphone shipments are forecast to pass the 1 billion mark for the first time, according to IDCs’ latest survey.

High smartphone growth is the result of several factors, including device subsidies from carriers, especially in mature economic markets, as well as a growing array of sub-$200 smartphones. Total smartphone shipments are forecast to reach 1.7 billion units in 2017.

‘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,’ says Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team. ‘The smartphone has gone from being a cutting-edge communications tool to becoming an essential component in the everyday lives of billions of consumers.’

‘Underpinning the smartphone market is an evolving market for operating systems,’ says Llamas. ‘We believe Android and iOS will remain the clear number one and two platforms, respectively, throughout our forecast. What remains to be seen is how Windows Phone and BlackBerry’s respective futures will play out pending their recent announcements. Windows Phone has inched ahead of BlackBerry during the first half of 2013, and we believe that will extend into the future.’

Windows Phone will solidify its position as the number three O.S. with incremental share gains over the course of the forecast. With the acquisition of Nokia’s device and services unit, Microsoft will increasingly need to drive share gains by itself as OEM support for Windows Phone is expected to wane now that the company is set to become a full-fledged hardware maker. Microsoft will also need to ship more low-cost smartphones to high-growth emerging markets if it is to continue building on its recent nominal share increases.

IDC is forecasting that Windows Phone will have a 10.2 per cent share of the world market by 2017. However, one wonder whether IDC ought not to renew it subscription to Kantar, because it would then see that Windows Phone has already achieved that market share in the UK, Mexico and is approaching it in a number of other countries.

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