Smartphone shipments pass 1 billion in 2013

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For the first time ever, the worldwide smartphone market shipped over 1 billion smartphones in 2013, according to the latest figures from IT market research company IDC.

With sales driven by low cost and large screens, smartphone shipments in the year hit 1.004 billion, a rise of 38.4 per cent over 2012 shipments of 725.3 million.

Low cost was the “key difference maker”, according to IDC analyst Ryan Reith. “Cheap devices are not the attractive segment that normally grabs headlines, but IDC data shows this is the portion of the market that is driving volume.” That’s particularly true, he added, in markets like China and India, where smartphones priced at $150 or less may soon constitute the majority of shipments.

On a worldwide basis, the big winner in the race to get devices into the hands of customers was Samsung, which shipped almost one in three smartphones, to command the leading market share of 31.3 per cent. The company’s shipments grew a whopping 42.9 per cent over the course of year, driven by sustained demand for its Galaxy S3, S4 and Note models, as well as its wide range of mid-range and entry-level models.

Even with a slight quarter-on-quarter decline in shipments in Q4 of 2013, Samsung maintained a sizeable double-digit lead over second-placed Apple.

Apple, meanwhile, has a market share of 15.3 per cent, but shipment growth was much slower for the company, at 12.9 per cent - the lowest year-on-year increase of all the leading vendors, despite record shipment volume in Q4 2013, as new countries started offering the iPhone 5S and 5C.

Third, fourth and fifth places went to Huawei (with a 4.9 per cent share of shipments), LG (4.8 per cent) and Lenovo (4.5 per cent).

Huawei achieved the highest year-on-year increase in shipments among the top three vendors, with shipments growing 67.5 per cent in 2013. LG, meanwhile, grew shipments 81.1 per cent, thanks to a portfolio makeover that has seen it offer more large-screen and high-end models, including the Nexus 5 and Optimus G series.

Lenovo is strong in key emerging markets, helping it to grow shipments by 91.7 per cent in 2013, and its recent agreement to buy Motorola Mobility from Google will give it a presence in North America and Western Europe that could help to boost its ranking over the course of this year.

“The sheer volume and strong growth attest to the smartphone’s continued popularity in 2013,” said IDC analyst Ramon Llamas. “Total smartphone shipments reached 494.4 million units in 2011, and doubling that volume in just two years demonstrates strong end-user demand and vendor strategies.”

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