NPD: Global smartphone shipments to outstrip feature phones in 2013

Another research firm, this time the NPD Group, has predicted that shipments of smartphones will overtake those of basic and feature phones for the first time this year, as adoption of smartphones accelerates.

The new report, from NPD DisplaySearch, predicts that global smartphone shipments will hit 937 million units in 2013, higher than the 889 million units for basic phones and feature phones. Smartphones would equate to 51.3 percent of the total handset maker, according to NPD. The report predicts that between 2011 and 2016, smartphone shipments will grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 26 percent, to 1.45 billion units, which will translate into two-thirds of the overall mobile phone market.

Source: NPD

NPD's report echoes one from March from research firm IDC, which estimated that vendors will ship 918.6 million smartphones this year, or 50.1 percent of the total mobile phone shipments worldwide. NPD's shipment and market share estimates are slightly higher but roughly in line with that assessment. Smartphones accounted for more than half of all mobile phones shipped during the first quarter of 2013, eclipsing feature phones for the first time, according to an IDC report from late April.

As other research firms have noted, smartphone adoption in emerging markets is driving most of the market's growth, due in large part to network upgrades in these markets as they adopt faster technologies including LTE. Additionally, the proliferation of smartphones that cost less than $200 is also driving adoption, and NPD found that China leads in the entry-level smartphone category, comprising 55 percent of shipments. China is also the largest market for smartphones as a whole, and the Asia-Pacific region will account for over 50 percent of smartphone shipments in 2013, NPD said.

Turning to the high end of the market, NPD said it expects LTE-enabled smartphones will reach 23 percent market share in 2013, which will drive shipments for AMOLED and LTPS LCD panels for full high-definition (FHD) resolution smartphones. Shipments of those components are expected to increase significantly, from 1.7 million units in 2012 to 113 million units in 2013, NPD said.

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