Canalys: Smartphone shipments surpassed PCs in 2011

However, the smartphone's success over computers is more complex than just sales figures.

Smartphones are where the money is now as a new report from analyst house Canalys found that the advanced mobile phones jumped over PCs in 2011.

According to the report, approximately 488 million smartphones shipped worldwide in 2011, compared to 415 million client PCs. Of course, the key word there is "shipped," so that doesn't necessarily mean sold. Nevertheless, it's still quite a feat.

However, the smartphone's success over computers is more complex than just sales figures.

Canalys vice president and principal analyst Chris Jones explained in the report that 2011 saw a higher demand for netbooks rather than desktops or notebooks, but also a greater interest in tablets (or "pads"), thus creating more competition for client PCs:

But pads have had negligible impact on smart phone volumes and markets across the globe have seen persistent and substantial growth through 2011. Smart phone shipments overtaking those of client PCs should be seen as a significant milestone. In the space of a few years, smart phones have grown from being a niche product segment at the high-end of the mobile phone market to becoming a truly mass-market proposition.

The greater availability of smart phones at lower price points has helped tremendously, but there has been a driving trend of increasing consumer appetite for Internet browsing, content consumption and engaging with apps and services on mobile devices.

This isn't terribly surprising considering that another survey recently published by Nielsen found that approximately 60 percent of all mobile phones now sold are smartphones.

Nevertheless, analysts warned that the surge for smartphones will slow down considerably this year as "vendors exercise greater cost control and discipline, and put more focus on profitability."

Canalys also recently reported that Apple surpassed Hewlett-Packard to be named as the top dog in the global client PC market during the fourth quarter of 2011.

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