IT Trends | Research

Smart Devices Continue Surge, Hit New Record

More smart connected devices--desktops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones--shipped in the latest quarter than in any other quarter in history, topping 303.6 million units, growing 27.1 percent from the same period last year, according to a new analysis and forecast released by market research firm IDC. The strongest gains were seen by the three leading manufacturers: Samsung, Apple, and Lenovo.

Third Quarter 2012
Samsung, for its part, shipped 66.1 million units in the third quarter of 2012--nearly double its 3Q 2011 shipments of 33.5 million, according to IDC's latest Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker. Its market share jumped to 21.8 percent from 14 percent in the third quarter of 2011.

Second-place Apple shipped 45.8 million units, up 38.3 percent from 3Q 2011, and captured 15.1 percent of the overall market, up 1.2 points from last year's quarter. It's worth noting that despite coming in second in units shipped, Apple beat Samsung in total sales by dollar, as its average selling price per unit was significantly higher than Samsung's.

"The battle between Samsung and Apple at the top of the smart connected device space is stronger than ever," said Ryan Reith, program manager, Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers at IDC, in a prepared statement. "Both vendors compete at the top of the tablet and smartphone markets. However, the difference in their collective [average selling prices, or ASPs] is a telling sign of different market approaches. The fact that Apple's ASP [of $744] is $310 higher than Samsung's with just over 20 million fewer shipments in the quarter speaks volumes about the premium product line that Apple sells."

Lenovo leapfrogged HP to take the No. 3 slot in the third quarter, shipping 21.1 million total units, an increase of 60 percent over the previous year's third quarter. Its market share grew from 5.5 percent in 3Q 2011 to 7 percent in 3Q 2012.

Among the top 5 vendors, No. 4 HP was the only one to experience a decline in the third quarter. HP fell 20.5 percent on unit shipments of 14 million, winding up with a market share of 4.6 percent, down 2.8 points from 3Q 2011.

Sony rounded out the top 5 with shipments of 11 million units, up 25.4 percent from last year. Its market share fell slightly--a tenth of a point--hitting 3.6 percent.

All other vendors combined shipped 145.6 million units, up 9.7 percent over last year.

The total 303.6 million units shipped in the quarter represented about $140.4 billion, according to IDC.

Forecast Through 2016
Looking ahead, the growth seen in recent years is expected to continue through 2016, when, as IDC predicted, tablets will outsell both desktops and laptops. In 2011, 930.4 million smart connected devices were shipped worldwide. For 2012, IDC has forecast that figure to jump about 28 percent to 1.19 billion units. That will rise to 1.45 billion in 2013, 1.68 billion in 2014, 1.91 billion in 2015, and, finally, 2.11 billion in 2016. For the period from 2011 to 2016, that represents a compound annual growth rate of about 17.8 percent.

The chart below breaks down that growth by category. According to IDC's forecast, by next year, tablets will outsell desktop PCs, and, by 2015, they'll surpass laptops.

Chart: Worldwide Smart Connected Devices Market Forecast Unit Shipments (Millions), 3Q 2012. Author: IDC

"Both consumers and business workers are finding the need for multiple 'smart' devices, and we expect that trend to grow for several years, especially in more developed regions," said Bob O'Donnell, program vice president, Clients and Displays, also in a prepared statement. "The advent of cloud-based services is enabling people to seamlessly move from device to device, which encourages the purchase and usage of different devices for different situations."

The shift in device preferences will also drive the average price of smart connected devices down, from $534 across all categories in 2011 to $378 in 2016.

Additional details can be found in IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker.


About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .