IDC forecast that the worldwide mobile phone market will have grown by 1.4 percent year-on-year during 2012, the lowest annual increase for three years.

The slow growth comes despite a record period for smartphones – the research house is forecasting a 45.1 percent growth for the twelve months, to reach 717.5 million units.

In total, 1.7 billion mobile phones are expected to have shipped during the year.

Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst for IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said: “Sluggish economic conditions worldwide have cast a pall over the mobile phone market this year.”

The strong smartphone growth was attributed to availability of devices with “a variety of form factors”, steep subsidies from operators especially in mature markets, and the availability of sub-US$250 terminals for emerging markets.

Restivo also said that in this space, the fourth quarter will be “relatively bright” due in part to sales of high-profiled devices such as the Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3, in addition to low-cost Android devices for China and other high-growth emerging markets.

Shifting smartphone landscape
IDC also noted that while Android is expected to continue to lead the evolving smartphone platform market, this also makes it the biggest target for competing OS’ to gain market share.

Windows Phone was identified as the platform which stands to gain the most, as smartphone makers and operators have “gained valuable experience in selling the differentiated experience Windows Phone has to offer”.

Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team, said: “What bears close observation is how BlackBerry’s new platform, BlackBerry 10, and multiple versions of Linux will affect the market once the devices running these systems are available.”