Global smartphone shipments exceeded one billion in 2013 for first time

Global smartphone shipments soared to a record level in 2013, marking the first time that over one billion handsets have been shipped in a single year. The passing of that milestone represents considerable growth in the industry, with shipments up 38.4% compared with 2012. 

The latest figures from IDC show that around 1,004,200,000 smartphones were shipped worldwide, accounting for 55.1% of all mobile phone shipments in 2013, with 817,600,000 non-'smart' handsets making up the difference. 

As in the previous year, Samsung dominated the global smartphone market, accounting for just under a third of all shipments. The company saw a 42.9% increase in its shipments, allowing it to marginally increase its market share to 31.3% - way ahead of Apple, in second place, with 15.3% of the market. Apple's market share actually shrank, down from 18.7% in 2012, although it still saw a modest 12.9% increase in its shipments. 

Both Samsung and Apple were leaps and bounds ahead of the next three vendors - Huawei, LG and Lenovo - which each made up under 5% of the market. 

Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said that the falling price of smartphone hardware is the most significant factor driving this growth, as well as broader availability of devices with larger screens. "Of the two [factors], I have to say that low cost is the key difference maker," Reith explained. "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." 

He added: "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." 

Indeed, the availability of more affordable smartphones is a cornerstone of the drive to connect 'the next billion' users to the web, as manufacturers increasingly focus on developing nations to grow their businesses. Earlier this week, Motorola's CEO confirmed that the company is working on a $50 smartphone, and efforts such as this will be crucial if, as Google chairman Eric Schmidt predicted last year, every person in the world will be able to get online by 2020. 

Source: IDC

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Honestly, this only reinforces my view that smartphones are the new PC for consumers. Its just a different form factor and OS than desktops, laptops, and servers.

Nice to see there's still plenty of potential to grow for everybody. I think the next major thing OEMs need to work on is battery life/self-charging. Maybe even eInk smartphones for just that reason.

This gives us some good perspective, Nokia at 30 million Lumia phones sold in 2013 isn't really that far off from the likes of LG in my opinion. Here's to hoping MS can boost the rate they at least update their models, the 920 should've seen a successor this past holiday season but instead they only introduce the 1520 and 1320 while the 929/Icon is taking forever to go on sale.

Even IDC says cheaper handsets are what are driving the market. Which explain why Apple released the iPhone 4 again in India trying to get in on it. But that is sad, hat Samsung can make a new device that has a better GPU/CPU for the same price that Apple is selling the iPhone 4 for, and Samsung's device will have a larger screen and even in some cases a higher resolution and definitely more capability.

A Galaxy S III at almost 2 years old is way batter than a 4 year old iPhone. Much larger screen, removable battery, extended storage options, 720P display, way more features and native hardware capabilities and a much better camera by a long shot.

The iPhone 4 may garner Apple more sales for people who simply just want an iPhone because of some status symbol, but why anyone would choose a phone that is that slow, runs the most recent version of iOS terribly compared to a GS3 running Jelly Bean, I don't know.

I guess selling more than one model of a phone is working pretty good for all the naysayers who cry about choice. As if their country is the only one on the planet.

Now for all those whining in the last Samsung article because they said Samsung lost 2.2% of Europe, While Apple dropped 11% in Europe, what you all have to say now?

Out of 1B "smartphones" that shipped, Samsung had over 1/3 of them. Doubling how many Apple shipped. And remember, "shipped" means sold as those phones are contractually paid for by carriers or even channels. So before anyone tried to drop the sales vs shipped crap, its the same; whether you the end users has it or a retailer bought it.

55% of the smartphones that shipped, Samsung has over a 3rd of them. I guess all those Galaxy devices are selling like hotcakes, AREN'T THEY.

I guess when you make cheaper phones that more people can buy, you get a real bragging right vs some company who well rather sell you a cheap phone for the price of a top tier phone.

Good show from all the smartphone OEM's no matter what OS you run. But this is proof that Android is Samsung and without Samsung, Android would not have such a substantial hold on the mobile industry.

LG and Lenovo may make less then 5% of the overall pie, but they both had an 81.1% and 91.7% increase in shipments which is an incredible feat in itself, and should definitely be commended. Everybody increased shipments, so I think everyone deserves a pat on the back!