A Global First for Smartphones On The Way, Says IDC

For the first time in the mobile era, smartphones will ship in greater number than feature phones this year.

It’s a groundbreaking milestone, says IDC, which issued the prediction on Monday morning.

According to the International Data Corporation Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors will ship 918.6 million smartphones this year, or 50.1% of the total mobile phone shipments worldwide.

Smartphone prices have fallen globally, the smartphone strata are wider than ever, and the roll-out of data-centric fourth-generation (4G) wireless networks are three factors that have made these “do-it-all” devices an increasingly attractive option for users.

In four more years, IDC expects 1.5 billion smartphones to be shipped worldwide, which amounts to just over two-thirds of the total mobile phone forecast for the year.

Helping to fuel this rapid and dramatic smartphone adoption will be large emerging markets like China and India.

“While we don’t expect China’s smartphone growth to maintain the pace of a runaway train as it has over the last two years, there continue to be big drivers to keep the market growing as it leads the way to ever-lower smartphone prices and the country’s transition to 4G networks is only just beginning,” said Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager for IDC Asia/Pacific. “Even as China starts to mature, there remains enormous untapped potential in other emerging markets like India, where we expect less than half of all phones shipped there to be smartphones by 2017, and yet it will weigh in as the world’s third largest market.”