SAN FRANCISCO—Shipments of cellular handsets are set to grow just 1.4 percent in 2012, the lowest level of growth in the past three years, despite a projected record number of fourth quarter smartphone shipments, according to International Data Corp. (IDC).
While overall handset shipment growth is expected to be tepid, shipments of smartphones for the year are projected to rise 45.1 percent, reaching 717.5 million units, IDC (Framingham, Mass.) said. Fourth quarter smartphone shipments are projected to hit 224.5 million units, up 39.5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011, the firm said.
According to IDC's quarterly mobile phone tracker report, total handset shipments are expected to eclipse 1.7 billion units in 2012. The firm expects total handset shipments into the sales channel to grow to more than 2.2 billion by 2016.
"Sluggish economic conditions worldwide have cast a pall over the mobile phone market this year," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker, in a statement. "However, the fourth quarter will be relatively bright due in part to sales of high-profile smartphones, such as the iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S3, in addition to lower-cost Android-powered smartphones shipped to China and other high-growth emerging markets."
IDC attributed the strong
smartphone growth for the year to a variety of factors, including steep
device subsidies from carriers—especially in mature economic markets
where carriers resell the majority of smartphones. The firm also cited a
growing array of sub-$250 smartphones in emerging markets.
IDC also forecast that the Android operating system would be the top smartphone operating system again in 2012, with a projected market share of 68.3 percent.