New Delhi: Driven by strong end-user demand and appetite for low-priced smartphones, China is expected to become the largest market for smart devices this year, overtaking the US, research firm IDC has said.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, China will account for 26.5 percent of all smartphone shipments in 2012 compared to 17.8 percent for the US.
However, by 2016, the share of China is expected to come down to 23 percent by 2016, while that of US is expected to be about 14.5 percent.
India is expected to rank fourth in the tally in 2012 after the UK (4.5 percent). India with a 2.5 percent share of the overall shipments would be slightly ahead of Brazil (2.3 percent).
The remaining 46.4 percent would come from the rest of the world, IDC said.
India's share in the global smartphone market stood at 2.2 percent in 2011 and is pegged to grow to 8.5 percent in 2016.
With smartphone penetration in India currently among the lowest in Asia/Pacific, the market has tremendous untapped growth potential, it added.
"Low-end smartphones offering dual-SIM capability and local apps and priced around USD 100 will rapidly bring this market to life," it said.
Although 3G data plans are currently too expensive for the majority of consumers in India, IDC said it expects 3G services to become popular, and in later years, 4G to drive smartphone uptake.
This will be driven by operators as they roll out more affordable data plans and generous subsidies while expanding offerings to tier II and III cities, IDC said adding that the affordability of service plans will be another important key to smartphone adoption in India.
"Looking ahead, the China smartphone market will continue to be lifted by the sub-USD 200 Android segment. Near-term prices in the low-end segment will come down to USD 100 and below as competition for market share intensifies among smartphone vendors," IDC Asia/Pacific Senior Market Analyst (Client Devices) Wong Teck-Zhung said in a statement.
Carrier-subsidised and customised handsets from domestic vendors (in China) will further support the migration to smartphones and boost shipments, the statement said.
"In addition to China and the US, several other countries will emerge as key markets for smartphone shipment volume over the next five years. High-growth countries such as Brazil and Russia will become some of the most hotly contested markets as vendors seek to capture new customers and market share," IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker program Senior Research Analyst Kevin Restivo said.