Market researchers at IDC are predicting that 2013 will be the first time that manufacturers sell more smartphones than feature phones worldwide. Falling prices and better 4G access are attracting more end users to smartphones, particularly in emerging markets.
PCMag's Stephanie Mlot reported, "Smartphones will officially overtake feature phones in the mobile market this year, according to IDC. While it might seem as though feature phones have been on the decline for a while, 2013 is expected to mark the first time smartphones rule the market on an annual basis, IDC said, tipping lower prices and 4G access as part of the reason behind the smartphone bump. Vendors are expected to ship 918.6 million smartphones this year — 50.1 percent of all mobile phone shipments worldwide, IDC said. By the end of 2017, the company forecasts 1.5 billion smartphones shipped globally."
Nathan Eddy with eWeek noted, "The demand for the high-tech devices, which boast Web connectivity, high-resolution touch-screen displays and access to application stores, is shifting away from mature economies like those in Europe and the United States and to emerging markets like India and China, the report noted. China, which supplanted the U.S. last year as the global leader in smartphone shipments, is at the forefront of this shift, while emerging economies with growing middle classes are expected to fuel future demand."
Tiernan Ray with Barron's added, "China is expected to see 301 million units this year, besting the U.S.’s 137.5 million units. But some other markets will see much higher growth, with Brazil, in fifth place and India, in sixth place. Moreover, projecting out to 2017, the firm sees 52% growth in China from this year through 2017, but 129% growth in Brazil and an amazing 460% rise by 2017 in India, which, at 155.6 million units by that year, would make India the third-largest smartphone market behind the U.S."
CNET's Marguerite Reardon observed, "This forecast jives with what the big smartphone manufacturers have been talking about recently. At last week's Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, companies such as Nokia, were talking up plans to launch lower cost devices for less developed markets. There has also been talk of Apple developing a low-cost version of its iPhone constructed of all plastic for these markets."