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Smartphones just passed the 50 percent mark this past quarter, finally edging out feature phones. But by 2017, 82 percent of all phones sold will be smartphones, according to market researcher NDP.

And 30 percent of them will be sold in China.

“Smartphone market growth is being fueled by entry-level smartphones from international brands and white-box vendors in emerging markets,” said Tina Teng, an analyst at NPD DisplaySearch. “We expect aggressive pricing moves to continue, prompting first-time smartphone buyers to upgrade earlier.”

global smartphone shipments

That’s a compound annual growth rate of 21 percent, while feature phones will decline at about 16 percent annually. Smartphones just reached the 250 million mark in a single quarter for the first time, and just recently passed the 50 percent market share.

A third of those new smartphones will have screens of more than 5″ in size, while most will be between 4″ and 4.9″. And 43 percent of those 1.8 billion smartphones will feature full high-def screens, while phones with quad-HD — also known as ultra high definition — will make up 16 percent of the smartphone market.

Clearly, with numbers like these, the smartphone market is a great one to be in. And aggressive manufacturers such as Samsung are growing at a 55 percent rate as Android is winning 80 percent market share.

High-end manufacturers Apple, however, will have to consider adjusting its business models as its growth is only half the market leader’s, and the company has resisted bringing a low-end phone to the market. But with the majority of the growth at the low end, the risk of this strategy is to simply cede emerging markets to Android. And it may not be so easy to win them back as they mature and smartphone owners become embedded in the Google/Android ecosystem.

China’s smartphone buying is growing 63 percent this year, NPD says.


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