Smartphones to Overtake Feature Phones for First Time, IDC Says

Smartphones will overtake so-called feature phones in worldwide shipments for the first time this year, lifted by more affordable models and surging demand for Internet-connected mobile devices overseas, IDC said.

Manufacturers will ship 918.6 million smartphones in 2013, representing 50.1 percent of the industry’s total, the research firm said today in a report. Smartphones, such as Apple Inc.'s iPhone or Samsung Electronics Co.'s Galaxy S III, typically differ from feature phones by making it easier to surf the Web, run applications and play videos.

By the end of 2017, smartphones will reach shipments of 1.5 billion, or more than two-thirds of the total, IDC predicts. The growth is being fueled by demand for the devices in economies such as China, Brazil and India. The spread of fourth-generation networks also is making smartphones more attractive, IDC said.

“Even as China starts to mature, there remains enormous untapped potential in other emerging markets like India,” said Melissa Chau, a senior research manager for IDC’s Asia-Pacific coverage.

China will the largest smartphone market in 2013, with 301.2 million shipments, followed by the U.S., the U.K., Japan and Brazil, according to IDC.

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