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Mobile-Phone Sales to Jump 7.3% in 2013 as Windows Makes Inroads

The surging popularity of smartphones will fuel a 7.3 percent gain in mobile-phone shipments this year, rebounding from 1.2 percent growth in 2012, according to research firm IDC.

Smartphone shipments will top 1 billion units this year for the first time, helping the broader industry grow more quickly than expected, IDC said today in a report. The firm had previously projected a 5.8 percent expansion in 2013.

While the smartphone business remains a two-horse race between Google Inc.’s Android and Apple Inc.’s iOS, the Windows Phone platform will make inroads over the next four years, IDC predicted. The Microsoft Corp. operating system will account for more than 10 percent of shipments in 2017, up from less than 4 percent this year, the research firm said. BlackBerry Ltd., meanwhile, is projected to slip to 1.7 percent in 2017.

“Android and iOS will remain the clear No. 1 and 2 platforms, respectively, throughout our forecast,” Ramon Llamas, an IDC analyst, said in the report. “Windows Phone has inched ahead of BlackBerry during the first half of 2013, and we believe that will extend into the future.”

Microsoft agreed this week to acquire Nokia Oyj’s mobile-phone operations for $7.2 billion, giving the Redmond, Washington-based company a manufacturing business to support the Windows Phone software. Nokia was already using the operating system under a 2011 partnership.

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