IDC: Smartphone shipments surge again while featurephone 'death' draws nigh

IDC: Smartphone shipments surge again while featurephone 'death' draws nigh

Summary: The market research firm estimated 295.3 million units shipped worldwide during the second quarter of 2014, representing annual growth of 23.1 percent.


The global smartphone market shows no signs of slowing down, based on the latest pulse check conducted by IDC.

The market research firm estimated 295.3 million units shipped worldwide during the second quarter of 2014, representing annual growth of 23.1 percent.

On a quarterly basis, growth was only 2.6 percent, but IDC program director Ryan Reigh reflected in the report that the "record second quarter" points toward "plenty of opportunity and momentum."

Reigh continued:

Right now we have more than a dozen vendors that are capable of landing in the top 5 next quarter. A handful of these companies are currently operating in a single country, but no one should mistake that for complacency – they all recognize the opportunity that lies outside their home turf.

China continues to be a focal point for all mobile OEMs — to the point where even homegrown Lenovo is facing increasing pressure but still hanging on with record shipments of its own.

In fact, Chinese mobile OEMs are putting more pressure on other hardware brands outside of China, especially in emerging markets as the featurephone continues to find itself on the way out amid the rise of cheaper smartphones.

"The offer of smartphones at a much better value than the top global players but with a stronger build quality and larger scale than local competitors gives these vendors a precarious competitive advantage," explained Melissa Chau, a senior research manager for on IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker team.

The smartphone report follows IDC's update last Thursday on the global tablet market.

While still projecting double-digit annual growth for the form factor, IDC analysts warned against getting too comfortable following quarter-after-quarter of astronomical growth.

Nevertheless, tablets might still continue to enjoy a longer boom in the business sector as analysts reflected the recent Apple/IBM partnership will boost tablet usage with more enterprise-specific offerings.

Looking forward, IDC analysts project that smartphone shipments will break the 300 million unit mark during the third quarter for the first time ever.

Chart via IDC

Topics: Mobility, Apps, Hardware, Smartphones, China

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • IDC is all over the place with their predictions....

    First they tell us that smartphone shipments have slowed down, then they tell us smartphone shipments are sluggish, then the smartphone shipments are growing.

    IDC are fortune tellers, where they take one quarter's worth of data, and magically come up with a very rosy prediction for the entire next year. Gartner is not much better, if at all.

    But, the folks at IDC wouldn't be employed if web sites didn't use them to quote their predictions.

    So, what are the IDC predictions for tablets? Tablets sales have been slowing down too. Perhaps a one week spike in tablets sales will prompt IDC to come up with a nice rosy prediction for big sales next year for tablets.

    Wonder how big their crystal ball is that they use for their predictions.
    • Depends on what down means

      If you consider "down" to be a decrease in growth then smartphones are both down but still growing. In this case they're talking about relative to feature phones.
      Buster Friendly
      • A slowdown in growth is the first hint that, a market is maturing and close

        to saturation. When saturation hits, people will be holding on to their devices,and new sales will begin to drop, to a point where most sales will be for replacements of old or broken or for upgrading or for switching platforms. But, entirely new users won't be that many.
        • More semantics

          A lot of it comes down to more semantics just like the meaning of down. What makes something a smart phone verse a feature phone? Do we keep raising the "smart" bar based on cost or does everything just take on that definition as the features migrate down to the low end.
          Buster Friendly
          • Your comments are tangential and irrelevant....

            Most handheld phones are going the route of smartphones, and in due time, even the "feature phones" will be replaced by smartphones. Now that the prices of smartphones are dropping to feature phone levels, most or all people, will be opting to go the route of smartphones.

            Take a look around: smartphones can be had for $99 or less, and even the poor folks in 3rd world countries can afford them.
    • smartphone sales can continue to grow

      and the growth can be slowing/sluggish at the same time- those are not mutually exclusive things.
  • not surprised at Samsung's drop

    surprised Apple's jump was as big as it is before the next iphone though.
    impressed by Huawei & Lenovo's gains.