More than one billion smartphones were shipped worldwide in 2013, the most ever shipped in a one year period to date. According to data from the International Data Corporation, vendors shipped 1,004.2 million smartphones in the 12 month period, an increase of 38.4 percent from the 725.3 million units shipped in 2012.
Among vendors, Samsung held a massive lead over its competitors in global smartphone shipments, moving 313.9 million handsets in 2013 and increasing its market share slightly from 30.3 percent to 31.3 percent. Apple scored a comfortable second place, with 153.4 million smartphones shipped. But according to IDC data, the Californian company's percentage of the global smartphone market slipped between 2012 and 2013, dropping from 18.7 percent to 15.3 percent, even as it saw record shipment volume during the fourth quarter of 2013. Apple's market share was instead picked up by Huawei, LG, and Lenovo. The Asian companies all nearly doubled their 2012 shipment numbers in 2013, sending out 48.8 million, 47.7 million, and 45.5 million smartphones respectively. Lenovo, notably, pipped LG to fourth place in Q4 smartphone shipments, despite finishing behind the South Korean company in year-long figures.
For the first time, smartphones accounted for the majority of mobile phone shipments
The IDC's data also shows that, for the first time, smartphones accounted for the majority of mobile phone shipments in a year. In 2013, 55.1 percent of all mobile phone shipments were smartphones, increased from 41.7 percent in 2012. In the fourth quarter of 2013, 284.4 million smartphones were shipped: an increase on the 229 million smartphones shipped in the same period in 2012. Only 494.4 million smartphones were shipped throughout the entire year of 2011.
Ryan Reith, program director at the IDC, said the rise in smartphone shipments is thanks to two trends: "large screen devices and low cost." Reith says his company's data suggests it's the second of these factors that's really driving volume. "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." But as The Verge noted when smartphones first outshipped feature phones in the first quarter of 2013, the nebulous description of "smartphone" within the mobile industry means this data should be judged with care.