Smartphone shipments broke one billion units for the first time last last year

BY Stefan Constantinescu

Published 28 Jan 2014

According to the bean counters at IDC, more than one billion smartphones were shipped during all of 2013. That’s up from 725 million in 2012. More importantly, 47% of all phones sold in 2012 were smartphones, whereas last year that figure hit 55%. Put another way, it’s safe to say that smartphones became mainstream devices in 2013. Who are the biggest smartphone makers? In order, it’s Samsung with 31% of the market, Apple with 15%, Huawei, LG, and Lenovo each have between 4% and 5%, and then “others” make up nearly 40% of the market.

Were most of the smartphones sold last year powered by Android? Absolutely. I’ve said this before, and I have no qualms in saying it again, smartphones used to be considered luxury items that only business men would carry. Over time, they’ve become cheaper and cheaper, to the point where it simply doesn’t make any sense to buy a dumbphone, unless you’re a farmer that needs two weeks of battery life.

What will the market look like in 2014? That’s the million dollar question. People who can afford a high end smartphone already have one. Upgrade cycles are averaging around the two year to two and a half year mark, so that’s going to be a steady replacement cycle. All the growth that’s expected to take place will be in the sub $150 phone space, which I know doesn’t interest you particularly, but that’s just the reality of the situation.