Smartphone Sales Beat PCs for First Time Ever, Canalys Finds
Smartphone sales surpassed those of PCs for the first time ever, during the fourth quarter of 2011, according to research firm Canalys. What's more, smartphones also outsold PCs--even with the inclusion of tablets, such as the Apple iPad, into the mix.
In all, vendors shipped 158.5 million smartphones during the quarter, up 57 percent from 101.2 million units during the same quarter a year ago, compared with 120.2 million PCs. Smartphones led for the full year 2011, as well, on shipments of 487.7 million units to 414.6 million PCs. Of those PC units, 63.2 million were tablets.
"Smartphone shipments overtaking those of client PCs should be seen as a significant milestone," Canalys analyst Chris Jones said in a statement. "In the space of a few years, smartphones have grown from being a niche product segment at the high-end of the mobile phone market to becoming a truly mass-market proposition."
Helping "tremendously," he added, are smartphones at the lower end of the price range and consumers' growing appetites for Web browsing, content consumption, apps and mobile services.
That said, the firm expects smartphone sales to slow some in 2012, as vendors "exercise greater cost control and discipline, and put more focus on profitability," added Jones. "Notably, even vendors who have focused on conquering the low-end of the market with aggressive pricing, such as Huawei, ZTE and LG, are now placing greater attention on the higher tiers. Flagship models aimed at raising selling prices and improving margins will feature more heavily this year."
As IHS iSuppli reported earlier this year, Apple was the top smartphone seller during the fourth quarter, moving 37 million iPhones, as well as 15.4 million iPads and 5.2 million Macs.
"It also smashed the record for the most smartphones shipped globally by any single vendor in one quarter," wrote Canalys, "beating Nokia s previous record of 28.3 million shipped in Q4 2010."
Unlike IHS, however, Canalys found Apple to have additionally displaced Nokia as the leading smartphone vendor for the year, on shipments of 93.1 million iPhones in 2011. According to its figures, Samsung followed with sales of 91.9 million units, with a third-place Nokia shipping 77.3 million smartphones globally.