Smartphones may be the global rage, but overall sales of all mobile phones will rise a mere 1.4 percent this year, to 1.7 billion units from all makers, market researcher IDC forecast.
Shipments of smartphones, though, are expected to soar 45 percent to about 718 million units, the private researcher in Framingham, Mass., predicted.
“Sluggish market conditions have cast a pall over the mobile phone market this year,” said IDC Senior Research Analyst Kevin Restivo. But strong fourth-quarter sales, especially of smartphones, should benefit the big manufacturers.
No surprise: IDC estimates smartphones running the Android OS from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), the No. 1 search engine and new owner of the Motorola brand, will account for 68 percent of the market, followed by the iOS from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), the most valuable technology company, with nearly 19 percent.
In third place is the BlackBerry OS from Canada's Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) with 4.7 percent, followed by Windows Phone from Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT), the No. 1 software company, with 2.6 percent.
IDC estimates those shares won't change much through 2016 with one exception: Microsoft's share will rise to 11.4 percent, presuming vendors such as Finland's Nokia Oyj (NYSE:NOK) and Asian ones like Taiwan's HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) succeed with new entrants.
IDC is optimistic RIM will succeed with its forthcoming BlackBerry 10 model and maintain “pockets of strength” with its enterprise customers and that HTC will become a major force now that it's adopted the Windows platform.
Phones running on open-sourced Linux platforms, such as from China's Haier Electronics (HKG:1169), will be “dark horses” with perhaps a 2 percent share, falling to 1.6 percent in 2016.
IDC said that the high price of iPhone 5 from Apple will deter customers, making it “cost prohibitive” to those in emerging markets. The Cupertino, Calif., company might consider shipping less expensive models, the researcher suggested.
Shares of Apple fell $10.34 to $575.85 in Tuesday trading. Google shares fell $4.22 to $691.03