Smartphone sales growing by 45 per cent in 2012, IDC says

Android will lead the way again; Windows Phone will be fastest growing mobile OS through 2016

Smartphone shipments to retailers worldwide this year are expected to total 717 million, 45% more than shipped in 2011, IDC said Tuesday.

The positive news for smartphones is countered by IDC's projection of just a small increase -- 1.4% over last year -- in sales of all types of mobile phones.

The worldwide mobile phone growth rate is the smallest recorded by IDC in three years. Shipments are projected to reach 1.7 billion globally in 2012, IDC said.

IDC projects record-breaking fourth quarter smartphone shipments -- the high volume holiday season -- of 224.5 million smartphones, a 39.5% increase over 2011.

The strong fourth quarter is led by sales of iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S 3 along with low-cost Android phones shipped to China and other markets, IDC said.

For all of 2012, Android is projected to hold 68.3% of the global smartphone market, followed by iPhone at 18.8%, BlackBerry at 4.75% and Windows Phone at 2.6%, IDC said.

Android shows the biggest market growth in 2012, up from a 49% share in 2011. The iPhone's share is the same as in 2011 (18.8%) , while BlackBerry has declined from more than 10% in 2011 to 4.75% in 2012.

IDC said it expects Windows Phone to be the fastest growing smartphone OS over the next four years, increasing its share from 2.6% in 2012 to 11.4% in 2016.

Windows Phone will battle BlackBerry for third spot on the list in 2013, IDC expects.

Windows Phone 8 will contribute to the bottom lines of Nokia and HTC, as well as Samsung, ZTE and Huawei, IDC said.

By 2016, BlackBerry will have dropped back somewhat to a 4.1% market share, while iPhone is expected to remain remain fairly consistent to end the year with a 19.1% share. Android's share is expected to drop a bit to 63.8%, IDC said.

Even with a lowered share, Android will still see an 18% annual growth rate through 2016, because the number of smartphones sold will grow by 18% a year through 2016, reaching about1.4 billion smartphones shipped that year, IDC said.

Samsung is the top seller of Android smartphones. Android also boosted LG Electronics and Sony into the list of top five smartphone vendors in the third quarter.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

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