Nobody in their right mind would dump their desktop or notebook PC for a smartphone, but plenty of people are willing to own both as they seek to stay connected and check email on the fly. Underscoring this point is fact that smartphone sales in 2011 skipped ahead of PC sales, and by a pretty wide margin, according to data released by Canalys.
Canalys says vendors shipped 158.5 million smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2011, up 57 percent on the 101.2 million units shipped in the same quarter one year prior. Ending the year on a strong note bumped total global smartphone shipments for 2011 to 487.7 million units, up a whopping 63 percent over 2010.
By comparison, the global PC market grew 15 percent in 2011 to 414.6 million units, and that includes tablet sales, which jumped 274 percent. Tablets accounted for 15 percent of all PC sales in 2011, Canalys said.
"In 2011 we saw a fall in demand for netbooks, and slowing demand for notebooks and desktops as a direct result of rising interest in pads," said Chris Jones, Canalys VP and Principal Analyst. "But pads have had negligible impact on smartphone volumes and markets across the globe have seen persistent and substantial growth through 2011. Smartphone shipments overtaking those of client PCs should be seen as a significant milestone. 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. The greater availability of smartphones at lower price points has helped tremendously, but there has been a driving trend of increasing consumer appetite for Internet browsing, content consumption and engaging with apps and services on mobile devices."
Google's Android platform was by far the most popular in the smartphone segment in 2011, capturing 48.8 percent of the market with 237.8 million units shipped. Apple's iPhone came in a distant second with 93.1 million units shipped for a 19.1 percent share of the market, according to Canalys.