IDC forecasts 1.2 billion smartphone shipments in 2014; Android to remain market leader

The International Data Corporation's (IDC) latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker reveals there will be more than a billion smartphones in the world by the end of this year.


Worldwide smartphone shipments will reach a total of 1.2 billion units in 2014, says IDC, which represents a 23.1 percent increase from the 1 billion units shipped in 2013. By 2018, total volumes are expected to reach 1.8 billion units, resulting in a 12.3% compound annual growth rate from 2013–2018. "What makes smartphone growth so amazing is where the growth will be taking place," said Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team. "Smartphone shipments will more than double between now and 2018 within key emerging markets, including India, Indonesia, and Russia. In addition, China will account for nearly a third of all smartphone shipments in 2018. These – and other markets – will offer multiple opportunities to vendors and carriers alike, but the key will be balancing affordability with expectations."


IDC also expects the average selling price (ASP) of smartphones to keep sliding and reach $314 in 2014, down 6.3% from the $335 ASP in 2013. ASPs are expected to reach a low of $267 by 2018, which means the IDC expects more focus on the mid-range and low-end growth segments. While these prices point to a definite decline, users still expect top-notch experiences regardless of what smartphone they purchase, as OSes get trimmed down for low-powered hardware. "Until recently, low cost has equaled poor quality in the smartphone space,” said Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "Given the competition at the high end, vendors like Motorola are trying to skate to where the puck is going by offering extremely affordable devices like the Moto E, which offer a ‘good enough’ experience that will suit the needs of many. This goes to show that components that were used 2-3 years back in high-end smartphones are still sufficient in many aspects, and ultimately will allow vendors to come to the table with viable low-cost solutions."


Android will undoubtedly remain the clear market leader among operating systems with share expected to hit 80.2 percent this year.  IDC expects Android to lose a minimal amount of share till 2018, but surprisingly says that would be a result of Windows Phone growth. ASPs of Android smartphones are expected to be $254 for 2014, dropping to $215 in 2018. Overall growth of Android phones is expected to outpace the market as IDC sees it rising 25.6 percent with just shy of 1 billion units shipped.


In bad news for Apple, IDC expects iOS market share to drop from 14.8% in 2014 to 13.7% in 2018. Apple, it says, is a great performer in mature markets, but has lost the game in emerging markets, which are expected to drive overall market growth. iOS shipment volumes are expected to hit 184.1 million in 2014, growing to 247.4 million in 2018. This year's expected growth of 20 percent will likely drop to year-over-year growth of 6.1 percent in 2018.


Windows Phone has come in for some good news from IDC. The OS has continued to build its global footprint, and growth is expected to outpace the market throughout the forecast period. In 2014, volumes are expected to grow nearly 30 percent over 2013, reaching 43.3 million shipments. In 2015, it's expected to reach 65.9 million units, continuing on to 115.3 million in 2018. An additional positive is the number of new OEM partners recently announced. If more OEMs get behind the platform, and device portfolios continue to scale the cost spectrum, Windows Phone can continue to gain momentum.


BlackBerry OS remains the worst performing across the major players. IDC expects volumes to drop 49.6 percent in 2014, equivalent to 9.7 million units. Looking forward, volumes are expected to continue to decline to 4.6 million units in 2018. The question of whether BlackBerry can survive continues to surface, and with expectations that share will fall below 1% in 2014, the only way the company will be viable is likely through a niche approach based on its security assets.

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