Worldwide smartphone shipments are rising faster than anticipated, prompting at least one analyst firm to boost its forecast for the year by 10%.
Manufacturers will ship 269.6 million smartphones this year, an increase of 55.4% from the 173.5 million units shipped last year, IDC predicted. Helping to boost smartphone shipments in the second half of the year beyond previous expectations are the recent launch of several new models, such as HTC's EVO 4G, Research In Motion's BlackBerry Torch and Apple's iPhone 4.
"The smartphone is the catalyst behind the rebound in the worldwide mobile phone market this year," IDC analyst Kevin Restivo said in a statement. "Additional product introductions and an expected flurry of smartphone buying activity in the second half of the year will push the market well above previous expectations."
In the first half of the year, smartphone makers shipped 119.4 million units, or 55.5% more than the 76.8 million units, shipped during the same period last year, IDC said in a report released this week. The smartphone market is changing rapidly. Long-time operating systems such as BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile are losing mindshare and market share to newcomers Android from Google and iOS from Apple.
Android use in particular is growing faster than the other OSes, making it a "wildcard" in the market, IDC said. Users like the OS because of its comparable ease of use to the iOS, and manufacturers like Android because its licensing enables them to modify it anyway they wish. Smartphone makers supporting the OS include HTC, Motorola, Dell, Kyocera, LG Electronics and Samsung.
Higher-than-expected smartphone sales are expected to translate into a better overall mobile phone market this year. IDC expects shipments to rise 14.1% year over year, or 1.5% higher than the firm's previous forecast.
The outlook for next year is also very strong. Despite economic uncertainty, smartphone shipments is expected to increase 24.5% year over year in 2011, IDC says. Growth this year was much higher because smartphone sales fell 2.8% year over year last year, due to the economic recession. Nevertheless, smartphone sales are expected to slow over the next few years, reaching just 13.6% year over year in 2014, IDC said. Despite the slowdown, the market is expected to remain larger enough to comfortably support five OS vendors.
By 2014, Symbian is expected to have a 32.9% share, Android is expected to increase to 24.6% from 16.3% this year. Microsoft's Windows Mobile, which is being renamed Windows Phone 7, is expected to regain some of the share it has lost over the last two years, while BlackBerry's share remains relatively constant and Apple's iOS declines gradually, IDC said.
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