The overall mobile phone market is growing faster than research firm IDC previously thought, primarily due to strong gains in emerging markets and the sub-$200 smartphone segment.
IDC had projected 5.8 per cent growth for the year but that has been revised upwards, to 7.3 per cent, as vendors are projected to ship more than 1.8 billion mobile phones.
It marks a sharp rebound from nearly flat growth in 2012 (1.2 per cent).
Moreover, smartphone shipments are expected to exceed one billion units in 2013, the first time that milestone will be passed in a single year.
“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,” said Ramon Llamas, an IDC research manager. “The smartphone has gone from being a cutting-edge communications tool to becoming an essential component in the everyday lives of billions of consumers.”
IDC reckons annual mobile phone shipments will grow to 2.3 billion units by 2017 with smartphones accounting for 1.7 billion.
In terms of operating systems, IDC expects Android’s market-leading share will dip slightly – going from 75.3 per cent in 2013 to 68.3 per cent by 2017 – but still far ahead of second-placed Apple. IDC estimated the Cupertino giant will have a 17.9 per cent market share by 2017, up from 16.9 per cent in 2013.
Windows Phone, said IDC, will solidify its position as the number three OS player with incremental share gains over the course of the forecast (10.2 per cent market share in 2017 from just 3.9 per cent in 2013).
With the acquisition of Nokia’s device and services unit, IDC warns that 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, argues the research firm, if it is to continue building on its recent nominal share increases.