With smartphones now saturating their western markets and emerging markets such as Brazil and China opening up for mobile growth, the entire mobile phone industry is growing steadily around the world. Analyst firm IDC today released predictions showing that mobile phone shipments will hit 1.8 billion units by the end of this year, while reiterating forecasts showing that smartphone shipments alone will reach 1 billion.
The IDC report shows that the global mobile phone market will grow 7.3% year-over-year in 2013. The prediction is a revised one, up from IDC's initial estimate of 5.8% market growth in 2013. The firm chalks the extra shipments up to the quickly-growing numbers of inexpensive smartphones on the market, as well as large subsidies from mobile providers.
"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, mobile research manager at IDC. "The smartphone has gone from being a cutting-edge communications tool to becoming an essential component in the everyday lives of billions of consumers."
In addition to shipment numbers, IDC is also predicting smartphone operating system market share for years into the future. The firm predicts that iOS market share will continue to rise slowly, reaching just shy of 18% of the smartphone market in 2017. Android, which currently dominates the smartphone sector with over three-quarters of the market, is expected to lose its share slightly as the market ages, landing at around 68% by 2017. The predicted third player in IDC's scenario is Windows Phone, which it says will more than double its current market share to over 10% by 2017.
"Underpinning the smartphone market is an evolving market for operating systems," said 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. However, overall shipments will continue to trail those of Android and iOS."