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 typically differ from feature phones by making it easier to surf the Web, run applications and play videos.
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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.