Study: Global Smartphone Growth Outpacing Expectations

Smartphones are beating the street. That much is clear from a new study published this week by the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker. According to the findings, global smartphone growth continues to outpace even the most robust of analyst predictions.

The worldwide smartphone market grew 54.7% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2011, IDC says, as Apple unleashed its iPhone 4S on an eager marketplace.

Vendors shipped a record 157.8 million units in 4Q11 compared to 102.0 million units in 4Q10. The 54.7% year-over-year growth was higher than IDC’s forecast of 40.0% for the quarter, and higher than the 49.2% growth in 3Q11.

On a full-year basis, total smartphone shipment volumes reached 491.4 million units in 2011, up 61.3% from the 304.7 million units in 2010. Once again – notice the trend here – this was higher than IDC’s full year estimate of 54.7% for the year.

Not surprisingly, IDC “still fully expects continued double-digit growth for the foreseeable future.”

“By the end of the quarter, one out of every three mobiles phones shipped worldwide was a smartphone,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team. “The launch of Apple’s iPhone 4S played a key role in smartphone growth to capture pent-up demand, and smartphone launches from other vendors also provided a broad selection to meet varying preferences and budgets.”