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Economy won’t dampen smartphone sales, says IDC

Sep 7, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

While industry analysts have recently lowered their estimates for PC sales, the smartphone market is apparently growing even faster than expected. The worldwide market for “converged mobile devices” will grow 55.4 percent this year compared to 2009, and in the coming years Android will enjoy the fastest growth (51,2 percent), rising to almost 25 percent of the market by 2014, says the study.

It's becoming impossible to go to a restaurant, bar, concert, or other public event without seeing the person next to you fondling their newly acquired smartphone. A new report from IDC now quantifies this observation, noting that for the first half of 2010, smartphone vendors shipped a total of 119.4 million units worldwide.

According to the research firm, this is 55.5 percent more than the 76.8 million smartphones manufacturers shipped during the first half of 2009. By the end of the year, IDC adds, it expects vendors to ship 269.6 million smartphones, compared to the 173.5 million units shipped in 2009.

If such a total is achieved, that will mean the smartphone market's up by 55.4 percent, IDC says. This would be ten percent higher than a forecast made previously in the research firm's ongoing Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

According to IDC, accelerated smartphone growth will translate into a better overall market performance this year. IDC now expects the overall mobile phone market to grow 14.1 in 2010, or 1.5 percent higher than its previous forecast. Last year, the market declined 2.8 percent, the first such occurrence in Mobile Phone Tracker history.

The outlook for 2011 is also very strong, despite uncertainty about the economy, the research firm says. The smartphone market is expected to increase 24.5 percent in 2011, but growth will then decline progressively: In 2014, for example, the smartphone market is expected to rise by just 13.6 percent, says IDC.

Kevin Restivo, a senior research analyst for IDC, stated, "The smartphone is the catalyst behind the rebound in the worldwide mobile phone market this year. Additional product introductions and an expected flurry of smartphone buying activity in the second half of the year will push the market well above previous expectations."

Operating system shares

IDC's summary of its latest research also includes a forecast of mobile operating system shares, but no single smartphone OS is going to dominate, the firm claims. Restivo notes, "IDC believes the market will comfortably support up to five OS players over the next five years."

According to IDC, Symbian will maintain its number one standing worldwide throughout the forecast period with 32.9 percent share in 2014. However, it will lose share, primarily to Android, which is expected to grow its share fastest over the period, rising from 16.3 percent to 24.6 percent.

Meanwhile, what IDC refers to as "Windows Mobile" — presumably lumping together existing Windows Mobile 6.1 devices and forthcoming Windows Phone 7 models — is forecast to have 6.8 percent market share by the end of 2010, and 9.8 percent share by the end of 2014. Growth rate for Microsoft will amount to 43.3 percent during the forecast period, the research firm says.

Operating system 2010 market share 2014 market share 2014/2010 change
Symbian 40.1 32.9 -18.0
BlackBerry 17.9 17.3 -3.5
Android 16.3 24.6 51.2
iOS 14.7 10.9 -25.8
Windows Mobile 6.8 9.8 43.3
Others 4.2 4.5 8.3
Total 100 100

Worldwide Converged Mobile Device operating system market shares and 2010-2014 growth

Source: IDC

As the table above shows, Apple's iOS is actually expected to decline, moving from 14.7 percent share in 2010 to 10.9 percent in 2014. BlackBerry's share, meanwhile, will remain relatively constant, IDC claims.

"Android is the wild card, deserving close observation for the rest of this year and the years to come," stated Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's mobile devices technology and trends team. "Phone vendors have been drawn to Android because it allows them to present their own approach to what a smartphone experience can be."

"In addition," says Llamas, "users have quickly warmed to Android, comparing it to iOS due to its ease of use and a growing mobile application storefront. Now that HTC and Motorola have leapt out in front with their own respective devices, other vendors such as Dell, Kyocera, LG Electronics, and Samsung will soon help grow the Android market."

Further information

More information about IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker service may be found on the research firm's website, here.

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