4G Gathers Momentum as Smartphones Smash One Billion Units in 2013

CCS Insight unveils latest mobile phone forecast

  • Global smartphone sales will surpass 1 billion units in 2013 despite overall growth in the mobile phone market slowing down
  • LTE will be the most prevalent technology used in the 2.2 billion mobile phones that will be sold in 2017, accounting for one in every three phones sold
  • BlackBerry’s woes present an opportunity for Microsoft’s Windows Phone in the enterprise segment
  • Apple needs a truly innovative flagship iPhone in 2014 if it is to maintain its competitive edge

8 October 2013: Smartphone sales in 2013 are expected to reach 1.01 billion units, or 55% of total mobile phone shipments. This is according to the latest forecast from telecoms analyst house, CCS Insight, which looks at the future of the global mobile phone market. The forecast also revealed that by 2017, smartphones will account for 78 percent of a total of 2.19 billion mobile phones sold worldwide.

Commenting on the latest numbers, CCS Insight’s Director of Forecasting, Marina Koytcheva said: “The insatiable demand for smartphones keeps growing, with over one billion smartphones expected to be sold in 2013. This explosive growth is occurring despite the overall market for mobile phones slowing down, as the mix of new sales is firmly shifting to more-capable smart devices”.

This shift underlines the pressure that basic mobile phones face as their shipments plummet to just below 500 million units in 2017. Although this is still a huge number, profit margins are being squeezed hard and the segment is now led by three companies: Nokia, Samsung and TCL Alcatel OneTouch. Koytcheva adds: “Whether Microsoft will have the appetite to stay in such a cutthroat segment after the proposed acquisition of Nokia’s device business remains to be seen”.

With the rise in LTE-capable mobile phones CCS Insight expects the technology to lose its premium status as it starts to appear on cheaper smartphones over the next two years. Geoff Blaber, CCS Insight’s VP Research, Americas, comments: “Keenly priced chipsets from companies such as MediaTek and Spreadtrum will drive this trend, challenging the market leader Qualcomm. Increased competition among chipmakers will lead to lower manufacturing costs and more affordable LTE devices”. Over 730 million LTE-capable smartphones will be sold in 2017, up from 220 million in 2013.

CCS Insight’s latest research also analyses the outlook for competing smartphone operating systems. Google’s Android is increasing its dominance but the long tail of new rivals will gain a small but significant foothold over the next three years, especially in China.

At the same time, BlackBerry’s current troubles present an opportunity to others. One beneficiary could be Microsoft, if it can draw on its longstanding relationships with big business to position Nokia’s family of Windows Phone-powered devices as an alternative to BlackBerry devices.

CCS Insight predicts Apple’s share of the smartphone market will shrink over the next three years as low-cost devices capture more of the market growth. Apple will still sell more phones than ever before — as long as it unveils an iPhone in 2014 with some big innovations and a larger screen. If Apple fails to come out with a radically new product, it risks losing share at the top end of the market.

Further details relating to this press release can be found in CCS Insight’s Market Forecast: Mobile Phones, Worldwide, 2013-2017. For details see www.ccsinsight.com

About CCS Insight

CCS Insight is a global telecommunications analyst company. It provides comprehensive services that are tailored to meet the needs of individual clients, helping them make sense of the connected world. Follow @ccsinsight on Twitter.

For further information contact:

Rachael Thomas or Hugo Deacon
Harvard PR
+ 44 (0)20 7861 1627

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