Smartphone ownership accelerating faster than expected worldwide

Smartphone shipments projected to account for 54 percent of the total cellphone market by 2013, up from 46 percent this year.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor on

Smartphones are projected to account for the majority of global cellphone shipments in 2013, which is at least two years earlier than previously predicted, according to market intelligence firm IHS iSuppli.

In fact, IHS forecasts that 2013 will actually mark the first time that smartphones will account for more than half of all cellphone shipments.

Specifically, smartphone shipments are projected to cover 54 percent of the total cellphone market next year -- up from 46 percent in 2012 and 35 percent in 2011.

Wayne Lam, a senior analyst covering wireless communications at IHS, remarked in the report that smartphones weren't expected to take the lead until at least 2015, so this is a "major upgrade" compared to last year's forecast.

Over the past 12 months, smartphones have fallen in price, and a wider variety of models have become available, spurring sales of both low-end smartphones in regions like Asia-Pacific, as well as midrange to high-end phones in the United States and Europe. The solid expansion in both shipments and market share this year of smartphones will make them the leading type of mobile phone for the first time, and shipment growth in the double digits will continue for the next few years.

Thus, smartphones are now becoming what IHS describes as a "focal point" for the cellphone industry as they start to beat out featurephones by offering more bang for your buck each year.

Smartphones also seem to have another edge up on featurephones as the smartphone market can really be divided into two segments itself with low-end and high-end devices. IHS analysts argue that low-end smartphones, in particular, will likely find a lot of success in developing markets as well as with first-time smartphone owners.

By 2016, IHS now predicts smartphones will cover 67.4 percent of the total cellphone market.

Featurephones, on the other hand, are supposed to drop to 28 percent of the market share that year. Ultra-low-cost handsets will round out the market with 4.2 percent of the market share in 2016.

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