FRAMINGHAM, Mass. September 4, 2013 – The worldwide mobile phone market is forecast to grow 7.3% year over year in 2013, marking a sharp rebound from the nearly flat (1.2%) growth experienced in 2012. Strong demand for smartphones across all geographies will drive much of this growth as worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to surpass 1 billion units for the first time in a single year, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.
The overall mobile phone market is growing faster than previously forecast thanks to a stronger-than-expected first half of the year driven by strong gains in emerging markets and the sub-$200 smartphone segment. IDC previously projected 5.8% growth for the year. Vendors are now forecast to ship more than 1.8 billion mobile phones this year, growing to over 2.3 billion mobile phones in 2017.
Worldwide smartphone shipments are forecast to grow 40.0% year over year to more than 1.0 billion units this year. High smartphone growth is the result of a variety of factors, including steep 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," said 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."
"Smartphones will represent virtually all of the mobile phone market in many of the world's most developed economies by the end of 2017," said Kevin Restivo, Senior Research Analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker program. "Aggressive carrier subsidies of handsets, falling prices, higher consumer awareness, and a vast array of devices will mean almost all phones shipped to the developed world will be 'smart.' However, smartphone shipment volume will be dominated by emerging markets, such as China, even though the percentage of smartphones to feature phones won’t be as high."