Global shipments of smartphones will exceed feature phone shipments for the first time in 2013, according to an annual report from IDC.
OEMs will ship 918.6 million smartphones this year, or 50.1 percent of the total mobile phone shipments worldwide. According to the report, the shift will be driven largely by a few emerging markets that are just now making the switch smartphones.
IDC notes that smartphone shipments to China, Brazil, and India will comprise a growing percentage of the device type's volume in each forecast year.
“Smartphone demand is burgeoning in these large, populous nations as their respective economies have grown; this has made for a larger middle class that is prepared to buy smartphones,” the report states.
Melissa Chau, senior research manager of IDC Asia/Pacific, says China will be at the forefront of driving smartphone sales.
"While we don't expect China's smartphone growth to maintain the pace of a runaway train as it has over the last two years, there continue to be big drivers to keep the market growing as it leads the way to ever-lower smartphone prices and the country's transition to 4G networks is only just beginning," Chau said, adding that even as China starts to mature, there remains enormous untapped potential in other emerging markets like India and Brazil.
Overall, the shift will probably mean slower growth in the years ahead.