According to market research firm IDC, this year smartphone shipments in China will eclipse those in the United States. China is expected to account for 26.5 percent of global smartphone shipments this year, with the US coming in second with an estimated 17.8 percent of the market. This would indicate a role reversal, as the US and China accounted for 21.3 percent and 18.3 percent of the market in 2011, respectively. The research firm believes that the continued growth in China will be buoyed by the release of lower-priced handsets in the country. "The PRC smartphone market will continue to be lifted by the sub-US$200 Android segment," IDC analyst Wong Teck-Zhung said.
Of course, it's important to note that IDC has a relatively broad definition of what constitutes a smartphone — in 2010 IDC analyst Ramon Llamas told CNN that a smartphone only needed to be able to make calls and have a mobile OS that was "computer-like." Outside of China and America, India, Brazil, and the UK are expected to be the next three largest markets for smartphone shipments in 2012. And India, in particular, is poised for a lot of growth, according to IDC — the research firm believes that the country's market share will jump from 2.5 percent in 2012 to 8.5 percent in 2016.