2013 will mark the year when smarthhones outsell feature phones for the first time. According to market reach firm, IDC, this will happen due to lower cost driving sales and more 4G wireless networks delivering a compelling user experience with applications and information availability.
Analyists have been predicting this for quite some time and 2013 looks to be the year when smartphones will actually surpass feature phones in terms of unit sales. According to IDC, manufacturers will ship over 918 million smartphones in 2013 representing about 50.1 percent of the total shipments. This number should grow to 1.5 billion by the end of 2017 growing to two-thirds of the total market.
There are a couple of reasons for this trend: First, smartphones allow popular features such as surfing the web, GPS navigation, games, and other internet functions. Second, 4G networks have made this possible with higher speeds and greater availability for users. Finally, prices have dropped across the world to the point where people have no price related reason not to choose a smartphone over a less featured alternative.
Volumes of smartphones are being driven up as high population countries like Brazil, India, and China continue to drive demand. This is a change in the demand profile for smartphones and is helping change the manufacturing and consumption dynamic. Sales in these countries are forecast to be greater than markets like the U.S. in the near future, and, according to IDC, China consumed more smartphones than did the U.S. last year. China, in fact, is expected to be the largest smartphone market in 2013 with over 300 million units. The U.S., U.K, Japan, and Brazil will follow in order respectively.
According to Melissa Chau, who is senior research manager for IDC in Asia/Pacific, “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, 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.”
So, if you haven’t already bought your smartphone, you probably will soon.