"Smartphones were a hot item in 2010, with more than double the shipments of 2009. In 2011, IDC expects this fire to keep burning as mobile phone vendors race to get consumers on higher-margin devices, operators look to pull up revenues on mobile data, and mobile platform stakeholders battle to woo app developers," says Melissa Chau, Research Manager for Client Devices, Domain Research Group at IDC Asia/Pacific.
Mobile phone shipments, made up of feature phones and smartphones, will rise by a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34% in the APEJ region, nearly doubling to 942 million units from 551 million units shipped in 2010. Both feature phones and smartphones had a strong showing in 2010. Feature phones grew 17% year-on-year in 2010 as the low-end with Chinese and local brands driving up the sub-US$100 segment. As a result, players like ZTE in China and G-Five in India moved up in the regional top 5 rankings for 2010.
However, by 2015, smartphones will grow eight times as fast as feature phones to reach 359 million units. Three in five mobile phones shipped in 2015 will be smartphones, up from one in five in 2010.
A lot of the steam behind this smartphone movement so far has come from mature markets, given that smartphones are generally more expensive. In South Korea alone, smartphones have cranked up by a factor of 10 in 2010, largely thanks to Apple and Samsung. Nokia by contrast has been squarely focused on bringing Symbian OS phones down in price below US$200 for emerging markets like India and Vietnam.
For 2011 and beyond, IDC expects a lot more brands to come in at a lower price point on Android, which will help not only pull up demand in emerging markets, but also make feature phone users across all markets consider upgrading to smartphones.
Up till now, Nokia and the Symbian OS has been the undisputed smartphone market leader in APEJ. But IDC believes Android could overtake Symbian as soon as this year as Nokia's new products on Windows Phone won't be available until the end of the year.
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