After a year of growth beyond 460 million units, the worldwide mobile phone market will continue to expand in 2004, surpassing 500 million units for the first time in history. According to a new forecast from IDC, handset sales will enjoy 8 per cent year-over-year growth in 2004 as shipments of 2.5G and 3G mobile phones accelerate worldwide.
“After years of 3G promises, the pieces – the handsets, the features and applications, the bandwidth, and the networks – are starting to come together to make next generation wireless a reality,” said Alex Slawsby, analyst in IDC’s Mobile Devices programme.
“Mobile phones are already an important part of everyday life in many cultures as users have embraced the technology and embedded it into their lifestyle. Enticed by new form factors, expanded features and capabilities, and falling prices, consumers are poised to begin a prolonged replacement cycle by upgrading to next-generation phones. This, combined with new demand from emerging markets, will sustain handset growth for much of the forecast period.”
As the number of mobile phone users approaches 1.4 billion individuals worldwide in 2004, IDC expects 42 per cent year-over-year growth in the 2.5G market as vendors ship more than 241 million units. Meanwhile, shipments of 3G mobile phones will surpass 48 million units in 2004, representing 140 per cent growth over 2003.
One of the features driving this growth is the emergence of ‘cameraphones’ that incorporate digital image capture technology within the device. This segment will grow 64 per cent in 2004, to nearly 100 million units. Similarly, IDC expects nearly 30 million converged mobile devices, or ‘smartphones,’ will be sold in 2004, representing growth of 111 per cent.