IDC predicts 918.6 million smartphones will be shipped this year, with the UK third biggest in terms of volumes, with 35.5 million units shipped
Smartphones are expected to outship feature phones for the first time in 2013, the first such occurrence in the mobile phone market on an annual basis.
This is according the Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report from analyst house IDC, which forecasted that 918.6 million smartphones will be shipped this year, or 50.1 per cent of the total mobile phone shipments globally.
IDC said smartphones have become increasingly attractive to users becuase of their falling prices, the strata are wider than ever and the continued roll-out of 4G networks.
Based on these factors, it has predicted that 1.5 billion smartphones will be shipped by the end of 2017, equating to just over two-thirds of the total mobile phone forecast for the year.
IDC said many smartphone shipments to date were a direct result of demand in mature economies. However, that balance is shifting to emerging markets where smartphone user bases are still relatively small and economic prospects are considerably higher.
Based on predicted shipments and market share for this year, the UK will be third with 35.5 smartphones expected to be shipped, holding a 3.9 per cent share. Top spot will be held by China, with 301.2 million units shipped and a 32.8 per cent share, followed by the USA, with 137.5 million units shipped and a 15 per cent share.
However, IDC thinks the UK will fall as far down as fifth by the end of 2017, with 47.5 million units shipped and a decreased share of 3.1 per cent.
It said that growth in the UK smartphone market has slowed recently as penetration has risen and economic growth has remained minimal, leading to consumer trepidation. It said the size of the market and its wealth relative to much of WEstern Europe will make it a smartphone volume leader over the forecast due to the ongoing transition to 4G and continued high carrier subsidies.