Research firm IDC projects China will overtake the U.S. this year as the leading market for smartphone shipments, with low-cost Android devices driving growth. Looking further ahead, India and Brazil will join the top five country markets for smartphone shipments by 2016.
“Due to their sheer size, strong demand, and healthy replacement rates, emerging markets are quickly becoming the engines of the worldwide smartphone market," said Ramon Llamas, a senior research analyst at IDC, in a statement.
While mature markets like Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. will see continued growth in smartphone adoption, the volumes won’t keep up with those in emerging regions. In China, Android phones priced under $200 were especially hot sellers last year, and that trend is likely to continue as devices become even more affordable. Domestic manufacturers like ZTE, Huawei and Lenovo are also expected to ramp up production.
China is expected to capture 20.7% of the smartphone market in 2012 among countries, just ahead of the U.S.’s 20.6% share. By 2016, China will claim 20.2% of the market and the U.S., 15.3%. India is projected to make the biggest leap, going from a 2.2% share in 2011 to 9.3% in five years, when it will rank third behind China and the U.S. in smartphone shipments.