Smartphones enjoyed a banner year in 2013. Data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) indicates vendors shipped more than one billion smartphones in 2013. This is up 38.4 percent from the 725.3 million devices shipped in 2012. Perhaps not since the Gutenberg printing press have we seen such a technological explosion.
“It’s hard to find any other industry growing at such dramatic increases - the fact that we are seeing this heavy growth shows there is still a huge demand for smartphones,” Ramon T. Llamas, research manager of mobile phones at IDC, told Mashable. “Only two years ago, we had half a billion units, so it’s a testament to how popular smartphones are and how competitive the market is right now.”
Samsung was the clear leader in smartphone shipments in 2013 with approximately 313.9 million units sold. Demand for the Galaxy S3, S4 and Note was clearly responsible for the success the manufacturer enjoyed in this milestone year. In fact, the Galaxy S4, which is one of the many Samsung smartphones available at T-Mobile, quickly became the fastest-selling Android phone of all time.
Apple enjoyed record shipments in the fourth quarter, due in large part to introducing its iPhone 5S and 5C devices to new international markets. But the company had the lowest year-over-year increase of all leading vendors, clocking in at a total of 153.4 million units sold.
Despite its lack of presence in North America or Western Europe, Chinese manufacturer Huawei came in third for the year with 48.8 million units sold, with LG (47.7 million units) and Lenovo (45.5 million units) ranking right behind. The remaining approximate 394.9 million units sold in 2013 were comprised of the other global smartphone manufacturers.
According to Llamas, smartphone sales will continue to increase in the next year, but will slow down in the years to follow. The driving trend in smartphone sales was seen to be screen size and cost. The phablet market â those devices with screen sizes five inches or greater â was certainly driving the increased sales of devices in 2013.
Nearly 18 percent of smartphones were phablets at the end of last year, according to Llamas. After an 11 percent increase from the year before, he believes this year could potentially hit 25 percent. Although not every user is looking for a larger screen, there is definitely a market.
Our hunger for information at our fingertips obviously feeds the popularity of the smartphone and other mobile devices. Moreover, with carriers loosening contract restrictions, allowing consumers to trade-up to newer phones without the typical two-year service agreement, and with the introduction of cheaper and cheaper devices, we are likely to see, as Llamas predicts, a ballooning in smartphone sales in the coming years or so.
The smartphone is easily the technology du jour of the twenty-first century. With manufacturers like Samsung and Apple continually introducing new innovations, it is probable that the popularity of the smartphone is not likely to wane anytime soon.