Samsung pulls further away from Apple as global smartphone shipments cross a billion units in 2013

Samsung has furthered its lead over second-placed Apple, while total worldwide shipments for the smartphone industry exceeded a billion units in 2013, according to the latest figures from market research firm IDC.

The figures show overall worldwide smartphone shipments grew 38.4% from 725.3 million in 2012 to 1,004.2 million in 2013, with smartphones now accounting for a clear majority of the 1.821 billion mobile phones shipped each year.

“Among the top trends driving smartphone growth are large screen devices and low cost,” IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker program director Ryan Reith says.

“Of the two, I have to say that low cost is the key difference maker. Cheap devices are not the attractive segment that normally grabs headlines, but IDC data shows this is the portion of the market that is driving volume.

“Markets like China and India are quickly moving toward a point where sub-$150 smartphones are the majority of shipments, bringing a solid computing experience to the hands of many.”

The period leading up to Christmas was particularly fruitful for the industry, with 284.4 million units shipped during the fourth quarter of 2013, up 24.2% from the same quarter a year earlier.

The clear market leader remains Samsung, with total worldwide smartphone shipments for 2013 of 313.9 million units, up a massive 42.9% from the 219.7 million it shipped a year earlier.

The only bad news for the South Korean giant is that its market share slipped slightly despite volumes growing during the fourth quarter, down to 28.8% and 82 million units from 29.1% and 66.7 million units for the same quarter a year earlier.

Samsung’s full-year shipments for 2012 were more than double those of Apple, which saw its volumes grow by just12.9% – far less than the industry average of 38.4% – from 135.9 million units to 153.4 million.

Apple’s market share for the full year fell from 18.7% in 2012 to 15.3% for 2013.

The figures also show Apple shipped a record 51 million units during the fourth quarter of 2013, up from 47.8 million for the same quarter a year earlier, as its market share dropped from 20.9% to 17.9% for the quarter.

Chinese smartphone vendor Huawei took out third sport with 48.8 million units and 4.9% market share (up from 29.1 million and 4% a year earlier), narrowly beating out LG with 47.7 million units and 4.8% market share.

Chinese PC maker Lenovo snuck in to the top five with 45.5 million units, beating out other prominent smartphone makers, including HTC and Nokia/Microsoft.

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