Globally, 169 million smartphones were shipped last quarter, bringing the total to 467 million through the first nine months of the year, according to Gartner.
While using historical trends to forecast data is an imperfect science, the smartphone market has exhibited fairly regular seasonal sales cycles. Based on past years, and using this year’s sales data to-date, we can offer a decent approximation of year-end totals.
Taken together, the first three quarters in each year between 2008 and 2011 have averaged 69 per cent of annual shipments. Taking that combined 69 per cent figure and applying it to the 467 million smartphones sold thus far, historical patterns tell us 677 million smartphones will be sold this year.
That would imply fourth quarter shipments of 210 million smartphones, a 41 per cent increase over a year prior. This means, for example, that even if Microsoft is on track to sell 10 million Windows Phones this quarter, as WMPowerUser suggests, that would still only translate to 5 per cent of the market.
For more historical context, 2012 shipments of 677 million would represent 44 per cent growth over last year’s shipments, and a significant deceleration from the 57 per cent growth rate observed in 2011.
It would be the first deceleration we’ve observed in annual smartphone shipment growth since the global recession of 2008— another a sign of the increasingly large base of smartphone users, and the market’s growing maturity.
Finally, the 677 million number would also be in line with our original 2012 forecast of 683 million smartphones shipped.