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Annual Android phone shipments to hit 1 billion in 2017, crushing iPhone and others

Android Shipment Forecast

Shipments of Android smartphones are expected to climb to more than 1 billion units annually in 2017, more than twice the 470 million Android phones that shipped last year. Market research firm Canalys on Tuesday issued a new report containing its smartphone forecast for the next five years. Android is clearly the big winner, and its 1 billion units shipped in 2017 will be good for 67.1% of the 1.5 billion smartphones that sell into channels globally. That figure is down slightly from the 67.7% of the market Android controlled in 2012, but the narrow loss in market share won’t benefit top rival Apple.

According to Canalys, Apple’s share of the global smartphone market will drop from 19.5% in 2012 to 14.1% in 2017, representing somewhere over 200 million smartphones. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s smartphone market share will balloon to 12.7% in 2017, up from just 2.4% in 2012.

BlackBerry is predicted to see its share slide to 4.6% in 2017 from 4.8% last year, but that figure would be music to BlackBerry’s ears — a 4.6% share of the smartphone market in 2017 would represent nearly 70 million smartphones according to Canalys’ estimates.

The firm’s full press release follows below.

Over 1 billion Android-based smart phones to ship in 2017

– 1.5 billion total smart phones to ship, accounting for 73% of all mobile phone shipments

Shanghai, Palo Alto, Singapore and Reading – Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Worldwide, 1.5 billion smart phones will ship in 2017, according to the latest country level forecasts from Canalys, to account for 73% of all mobile phone shipments. In North America and Western Europe, virtually all phones shipped will be smart phones. Even in Greater China, smart phones will represent 95% of all mobile phone shipments in 2017.

‘The price of smart phones has fallen dramatically over the last few years and this has helped increase penetration,’ said Chris Jones, Canalys Principal Analyst. ‘But, so far, the problem with low-cost smart phones has been that the user experience has been compromised to hit lower price points. This is why Nokia has been so successful with its Asha portfolio. These handsets have been purpose-built and provide a great “pseudo-smart phone” experience. But the situation will change over the next few years. As component prices continue to fall, vendors will be able to deliver great experiences on smart phones at low price points, which means that in many markets, feature phones will become extinct.’

The smart phone market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18%, while mobile phone shipments will decline by a CAGR of 9% over the same period. Growth in the smart phone market will continue to be driven by Android. In 2012, over 470 million Android-based smart phones shipped and by 2017 this number will have more than doubled to over 1 billion, giving the platform a 67.1% market share. Over the same period, it is forecast that Apple’s shipments will continue to grow, but at a slower rate than the total smart phone market and hence its market share will fall from 19.5% in 2012 to 14.1% in 2017. ‘Apple’s growth will be curtailed by the fact that momentum in the smart phone market is coming from the low end, and Apple is absent from this segment,’ said Jessica Kwee, Canalys Analyst. ‘Android’s continued dominance is due to the scalability of the platform.’

In contrast to Apple, Microsoft’s market share is forecast to grow from 2.4% to 12.7% over the same period. ‘The scalability of Microsoft’s platform will be critical to its success and it has made progress here by enabling Huawei and Nokia to deliver Windows Phone products at aggressive price points,’ said Kwee. ‘Nokia is the most active vendor in the Microsoft camp and it continues to make steady progress with its Lumia portfolio. It has had some major carrier wins recently in the two largest markets of China and the US, which will help it build momentum in the short term. But longer-term it is the Chinese vendors that are best placed to challenge Samsung’s market dominance. Microsoft already has a relationship with Huawei and ZTE in the phone space, and Lenovo is a major partner in the PC space. These partners will be needed to help deliver the scale that Microsoft needs.’

The outlook for BlackBerry remains positive. Though its market share will remain stable over the forecast period, in real terms its shipments are expected to more than double. But for this to happen, it needs to phase out BlackBerry 7 devices quickly and add BlackBerry 10 devices across a range of price points. In addition, BlackBerry needs to urgently reverse its fortunes in the US and focus on growing its presence in China, as without these markets it will struggle to hit the projected shipment numbers.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.