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Worldwide smartphone shipments reached one billion in 2013

Global smartphone shipments surpassed the one billion unit milestone last year. Surprisingly, Lenovo, LG, and Huawei were some of the best performing manufacturers, while Apple failed to keep the pace.
January 28, 2014
So much to choose from, how can you lose?
So much to choose from, how can you lose?

Research firm IDC has recently published its report of the smartphone market during 2013. The results show that the smartphone market has reached yet another milestone, having shipped one billion units in a single year for the first time. However, Strategy Analytics’ own analysis places worldwide shipments just a tad lower at 990 million units, falling frustratingly short of the billion device milestone. Either way, shipping around a billion different handsets in a single year is a pretty impressive feat.

The five largest manufacturers throughout 2013 were Samsung, not surprisingly, Apple, LG, Lenovo, and Huawei, although the rest of the pack still accounted for around 40% of the market. Samsung still retains its dominant market position, and managed to ship another record breaking 313.9 million smartphones last year. Below is a table detailing each of the top 5 manufacturers’ shipments and marketshares from 2013 and 2012.

Smartphone Shipments 2012 to 2013

Last year’s most impressive performances actually came from some of the smaller manufacturers, with LG and Lenovo managing 81.1% and 91.7% increases in shipment volumes respectively. Samsung and Huawei also both faired very strongly, handily beating the 38% average rate of smartphone growth over the year. Apple was by far the most stagnant of the big manufacturers, managing just a 12.9% increase in shipments and falling well behind the market’s general rate of growth. Samsung appears to be pulling even further ahead than its high-end rival.

Another interesting trend is the decline in Samsung’s and Apple’s market dominance. The two smartphone giants accounted for about half of all devices shipped in 2012, but this amount fell to 46.6% in 2013. Although not a massive decline, the rise of cheaper Chinese manufacturers, such as Lenovo and Huawei could suggest either – that the market if shifting slightly away from premium handset models, or, at the very least, that emerging markets now account for a much larger portion of total smartphone shipments.

The director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, Ryan Reith, echoes this sentiment:

Cheap devices are not the attractive segment that normally grabs headlines, but IDC data shows this is the portion of the market that is driving volume. Markets like China and India are quickly moving toward a point where sub-$150 smartphones are the majority of shipments.

IDC has also collected some interesting data regarding each of the top 5 vendors’ performance throughout last year.

2013 Marketshare by Quarter

Apple clearly received a fourth quarter boost at the end of 2013, following the launch of its new flagship iPhone 5S. Samsung, on the other hand, maintained a much more even distribution of handset sales, due to its staggered device releases throughout the year. LG, Huawei, and Lenovo also managed to maintain consistent shares throughout the year, suggesting that these brands aren’t being propped up by one-hit-wonder devices.

It looks like the trend towards emerging markets is here to stay. Although the dominant positions of Samsung and Apple aren’t under any immediate threat, it looks like the big two will have an even tougher challenge fending off their rivals this year.