Global smartphone shipments hit record 1bn units in 2013

Rise in shipments

Global smartphone shipments topped the one billion unit mark for the first time ever in 2013, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

The market watcher's figures revealed that 1,004.2 million smartphones shipped in 2013, which is 38.4 per cent higher than in 2012 when 725.3 million units shipped.

During the fourth quarter of 2013, the number of smartphones shipped was up 24.2 per cent on the previous year and reached 284.4 million units.

Samsung continued to lead the smartphone market in 2013, and has maintained a double-digit lead over its nearest competitor Apple, thanks to the continued demand for its S3 and S4 devices.

Apple, meanwhile, notched up a record number of shipments during Q4, as the launch-day momentum of its iPhone 5S and 5C models continued on in to the next quarter.

Huawei, Lenovo and LG made up the rest of IDC's top five smartphone vendors.

Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's mobile phone team, said the figures are a testament to the continued popularity of smartphones.

"Total smartphone shipments reached 494.4 million units worldwide in 2011, and doubling that volume in just two years demonstrates strong end-user demand and vendor strategies to highlight smartphones," said Llamas.

In the mobile phone market (inclusive of smartphones), a grand total of 1,821 million units shipped in 2013. This was up 4.8 per cent from 1,738 million units in 2012.

Smartphones accounted for 55.1 per cent of all mobile phone shipments in 2013, up from 41.7 per cent the previous year.

Ryan Reith, programme director for IDC's worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker, much of the growth in the smartphone sector has been driven by large screens and low cost.

"Of the two, I have to say that low cost is the key difference maker. Cheap devices are not the attractive segment that normally grabs headlines, but IDC data shows this is the portion of the market that is driving volume," said Reith.

"Markets like China and India are quickly moving toward a point where sub-$150 smartphones are the majority of shipments, bringing a solid computing experience to the hands of many."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.