Smartphone sales will continue to exceed even the most optimistic expectations this year, according to the latest industry forecast by IT researcher IDC.
IDC's latest data shows total shipments in 2010 now pegged to check in somewhere north of 270 million units. If the researcher is right, total smartphone sales for the year will increase by a little more than 55 percent from the 173.5 million units sold last year.
This latest revised forecast represents a 10 percent hike from IDC's original estimate of 45 percent growth for the year.
And it will be smartphone vendors such as Motorola (NYSE: MOT), HTC and Samsung running Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android mobile operating system that will be raking in the most cash in the near future. According to IDC, Android-based devices will grow from 16.3 percent of the total smartphone market this year to almost 25 percent by 2014, eroding share from the likes of Nokia's Symbian-based smartphones, the Apple iOS devices and Research In Motion's (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry devices.
However, IDC's outlook calls for Symbian, BlackBerry and Microsoft's emerging Windows Phone platform will account for roughly 60 percent of the total smartphone market. Meanwhile Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone line is expected to see its share decrease from 14.7 percent in 2010 to a tad under 11 percent in 2014.
"Phone vendors have been drawn to Android because it allows them to present their own approach to what a smartphone experience can be," IDC's Ramon Llamas said in the report. "In addition, users have quickly warmed to Android, comparing it to iOS due to its ease of use and a growing mobile application storefront."
"Now that HTC and Motorola have leapt out in front with their own respective devices, other vendors such as Dell, Kyocera, LG Electronics, and Samsung will soon help grow the Android market," he added.
A Gartner smartphone report last month predicted much the same growth, both for smartphones as a whole (now roughly 20 percent of the worldwide handset market) and Android-based smartphones in particular.
In the second quarter, more than 61.6 million smartphones were sold, a 50.5 percent increase from the year-ago quarter. The top four smartphone operating system vendors accounted for 91 percent of all smartphone sales, with Android-based devices enjoying the biggest surge, exploding from just under 756,000 units sold last year to more than 10.6 million this time around.
IDC still predicts Nokia's (NYSE: NOK) Symbian-based smartphones will still lead the pack with roughly 33 percent of the market in 2014, down from a little more than 40 percent of smartphone sales this year.
The research firm credited strong demand for new models particularly the iPhone 4, BlackBerry Torch and HTC Evo 4G for what's now projected to be a 14.1 percent improvement in smartphone sales this year.
IDC is expecting a stunning 24.5 percent increase in smartphone sales in 2011 with overall growth gradually subsiding to around 13.6 percent annual growth by 2014.