China will overtake the U.S. this year as the world's largest smartphone market, according to a new IDC forecast. The research firm projects China will account for 26.5% of all smartphone shipments in 2012, compared to 17.8% for the U.S. Lower-priced Android phones will be a key to wider smartphone adoption throughout China.
Smartphone growth will not grind to a halt in the U.S., but it will slow as smartphones become the majority among mobile phones. “There is still a market for first-time users as well as thriving upgrade opportunities," stated IDC senior analyst Ramon Llamas.
Trailing well behind both China and the U.S. is the U.K., which IDC projects will claim 4.5% of smartphone shipments this year, followed by India (2.5%) and Brazil (2.3%). The rest of the world will make up 46% of the market. By 2016, the smartphone share of China and the U.S. is expected to contract to 23% and 14%, respectively, as other countries make gains.
India is forecast to have the highest smartphone growth rate in the coming years.