Smartphone Shipments Top 1 Billion In 2013

As projected, worldwide smartphone shipments annually surpassed 1 billion units for the first time in 2013, according to new data from IDC. The research firm said the milestone represented a 38.4% gain from $725.3 million in 2012.

Smartphones accounted for 55.1% of all mobile phone shipments last year, up from 41.7% in 2012. For the fourth quarter, the number of smartphones shipped was up 24.2% to 229 million units.

"The sheer volume and strong growth attest to the smartphone's continued popularity in 2013," said Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's mobile phone team, in a statement. "Total smartphone shipments reached 494.4 million units worldwide in 2011, and doubling that volume in just two years demonstrates strong end-user demand and vendor strategies to highlight smartphones."

Ryan Reith, program director for IDC's quarterly mobile tracker, noted that low-cost and large-screen devices are driving the smartphone market. That's especially true of emerging markets like China and India, where sub-$150 smartphones are fast moving toward becoming the majority of shipments.

When it comes to manufacturers, Samsung ended 2013 with nearly a third (31.3%) of the global smartphone market, up slightly from 30.3% a year ago. Apple finished the year with 15.3% share, down from 18.7% a year ago.

Whether the company's new pact with China Mobile can help close the gap with Samsung remains to be seen. The company on Monday said it sold 51 million iPhones in the December quarter, but its revenue outlook for the current quarter fell below analysts' expectations.

China-based Huawei had the third-largest share, at 4.9%, up from 4% in 2012. Right on Huawei’s heels, however, was LG, with 4.8% share -- up from 3.6%, while Lenovo was close behind with 4.5% share, up from 3.3%. The three will continue battling it out for the No. 3 slot behind Samsung and Apple during 2014, China-based handset maker ZTE lurking just outside the top five.

Samsung, not surprisingly, also dominated overall mobile phone shipments last year, with a 24.5% share of the market, followed by Nokia with 13.8%, and Apple at 8.4%. LG and Lenovo rounded out the top five, with 3.8% and 3% share, respectively. 

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