More than 1bn smartphones were shipped in 2013

5 Feb 2014

Global smartphone shipments for 2013 came in at just more than 1bn units, a 43pc increase over 2012, according to new figures from Futuresource Consulting.

Tablet devices showed stronger year-over-year growth rates than smartphones, up 57pc to 243m units.

“The smartphone market’s continued growth has been driven by ever-increasing demand in emerging markets, particularly in Asia,” said Oliver Rowntree, market analyst with Futuresource.

“China was the largest market globally, with a total size of 310m units, and was dominated in large part by domestic brands, such as Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE, Xiaomi and Coolpad.”

Rowntree said phablet devices with displays between five and seven inches became increasingly popular in 2013.

A cheaper pill to swallow

On the growth of tablet devices, Rowntree said that strong Q4 sales helped drive annual growth.

“Ninety million units were shipped from October to December – an increase of 32pc over 2012. Among international brands, Apple and Samsung remain dominant, with 47pc of the market between them.”

Rowntree said overall growth continues to be propelled forward by low-cost white-label tablets manufactured in China and rebranded for other markets – accounting for 36c of annual shipments.

“These cheap devices have also driven down the cost of branded Android tablets, with international brands such as Acer, Lenovo and Asus competing to produce sub-US$100 tablets to expand their market share.”

Futuresource expects tablet market growth to slow slightly to 31pc in 2014 as prices level out, reaching 317m units.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years