China is set to overtake the US as the world's biggest smartphone market in 2012, with the UK market set to fall year on year.
Growing consumer demand and a glut of low-priced smartphones will fuel the surge in the Chinese market. By the end of this year, it will have a 26.5% market share, compared to 18.3% last year.
Wong Teck-Zhung, senior market analyst for client devices at IDC Asia/Pacific, said: 'Looking ahead, the PRC smartphone market will continue to be lifted by the sub-$200 Android segment. Near-term prices in the low-end segment will come down to $100 and below as competition for market share intensifies among smartphone vendors. Carrier-subsidised and customised handsets from domestic vendors will further support the migration to smartphones and boost shipments. Looking ahead to the later years in the forecast, the move to 4G networks will be another growth catalyst.'
The current number one, the US, will have a market share of 17.8% by the end of 2012, compared to its 21.3% share last year. IDC said because smartphones now make up the majority of shipments in the US, growth will continue, but at a slower pace than other markets.
The UK market is set to shrink from its 5.3% market share last year to a 4.5% share this year. Its share of the global market is set to decrease to 3.6% by 2016, although overall shipments will have grown by 11.5% between 2011 and 2016. IDC said: 'Smartphone shipments will continue to increase due to the introduction of LTE and a new range of services that will appeal to heavy smartphone users. In addition, price erosion on HSPA devices will also attract feature phones users. Growth rates will slow in the later years of the forecast as penetration plateaus and operators seek out alternative subsidy models.'
The fastest growing market between 2011 and 2016 will be India, which will grow by 57.5%. China will consolidate its position as the world's number one market, with a 23% share in 2016, compared to the UnS which will have a 14.5% share.
Editor: Graeme Neill