IDC: 4G and emerging markets boosting smartphone growth

IDC: 4G and emerging markets boosting smartphone growth

IDC is expecting another stellar year for smartphones as Q1 2014 surpassed expectations, with emerging markets and 4G driving growth.

Smartphone sales were up 28.6% year-over-year to 281.5 million shipments, although the figure was down 2.8% from Q4 2013. The result beat IDC’s forecast of 267.2 million by 5.3%.

IDC mobile phone research manager, Ramon Llamas, said: ‘The first quarter of the year typically brings sequential retrenchment from the holiday spending of the previous quarter. The small difference between the two quarters points to sustained strong demand, driven by emerging markets, low-cost devices, and the proliferation of 4G networks. If this is how we start the year, then we can look forward to another record-breaking quarter at the end of the year.’

Research manager at IDC, Melissa Chau, added: ‘The face of the smartphone market is changing rapidly to reflect the rise of its largest market, China, where a record 40% of the smartphones shipped worldwide in 1Q14 were bound to Chinese consumers. In a quarter where global shipments declined sequentially, China bucked the trend. The market benefited from its seasonal Lunar New Year uptick, greater emphasis on 4G devices following the December TD-LTE network launch, and the official launch of Apple at China Mobile resulted in volumes a third higher than 4Q13 levels.’

Samsung continued to dominate the smartphone landscape as almost one in three smartphone users owned a Samsung device. Shipments grew by 22% year-over-year, although market share fell from 31.9% to 30.2%.

The Korean manufacturer also holds the biggest share in overall mobile sales with a quarter of the marlet, ahead of Nokia in second, although the newly Microsoft-acquired company posted a 18.4% decline in handset shipments.

Lenovo saw the biggest growth in overall smartphone shipments with a 63.3% upsurge as the Chinese manufacturer cemented its fourth place slot behind Apple in second and compatriots Huawei in third.

The research firm expects further smartphone growth into 2014. After shipments hit the billion mark last year, IDC forecasts a 19.3% jump to 1.2 billion.

Llamas said: ‘The lower growth rate for 2014 should not be interpreted as a sign that the market has come as far as it can. In fact, there will be plenty to observe. Apple's entry into China is only the start of where it has yet to go. The introduction of Nokia's Android-powered X-series as well as Microsoft's recently completed acquisition of Nokia marks a new era for both companies. Numerous companies outside of Samsung and Apple, fueled by acquisitions and new strategies, will make a run at position and market share. In all, there are multiple dynamic trends in the making, which will make for an interesting year.’

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