We all know what a consumer-driven and growing nation China is and the latest figures out from IDC confirm that China will overtake the U.S. as the world’s biggest smartphone market this year. By year end, estimates show that China will hold a 25.5% share in the smartphone market over the 17.8% that the US is expected to hold onto. Obviously, since China is the world’s most-populated country, this day was bound to happen, but it was the exponential acceleration that surprised many.
"The fact that China will overtake the United States in smartphone shipments does not mean that the U.S. smartphone market is grinding to a halt," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends program. "Now that smartphones represent the majority of mobile phone shipments, growth is expected to continue, but at a slower pace. There is still a market for first-time users as well as thriving upgrade opportunities."
The only country out pro forming China in the rate of acceleration is India, which will only account for 2.5% of all smartphones shipped and sold, but is growing at a rate of over 57%. Mind you, that still only gives the country an 8.5% share by 2016 -- making it one of the lowest smartphone penetration rates in the region.
"Regionally, we expect smartphone demand to flow down to lower-tier cities," added James Yan, senior market analyst for Computing Systems Research at IDC China. "After going through a period of sustained high growth, top-tier cities are likely to see decelerating smartphone growth rates. In contrast, secondary cities are expected to experience accelerated smartphone growth, with strong demand for low-cost models as well as high-end models, which are desired as status symbols."
In most of these developing and non-Western countries, especially China, the majority of smartphone buyers are looking for affordability and are mostly drawn to Android, which which will see its share expand at a rate of 26.2% by 2016.
Emerging markets like Brazil, expected to see a growth rate of 44% by 2016, also gravitate to the Android devices.
Markets like the U.S. and UK are still not totally saturated and will see growth in the purchase of smartphone devices by 12%. Here, the main isn't the first-time adoption of a smartphone but usually trending toward upgrades. The U.S. and UK, unlike most countries, are already tipping into a smartphone majority.
IDC also mentions that one country is gaining on the growth and popularity that Brazil has held for the last two-three years, that country is Russia. IDC believes Russia is poised to be one of the most hotly contested markets of all in the next five years for the mobile sector.