Smartphone shipments to hit 1.5 billion in 2017

Picture 5773New data suggests worldwide smartphone shipments will hit 1.5 billion by 2017 — that’s more than double the number of smartphones that shipped last year.

The smartphone market is already huge, but things are expected to get even bigger in the coming years.

By 2017, worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to hit 1.5 billion, new data from research firm IHS suggests. By the end of this year, IHS expects worldwide smartphone shipments to to reach nearly 900 million units.

The total install base for smartphones worldwide surpassed 1 billion in the third quarter of 2012, an important milestone for the smartphone industry.

As expected, Apple will ship a boatload of smartphones this year, reaching 150 million units, according to IHS. However, the research firm was quick to point out that the figure is “essentially flat,” since shipments hit 134 million units last year.

“The possible slowing growth of the iPhone and the rapid pace of competitive smartphones releases speak to the ferocious nature of the handset business, especially now as the market continues to pivot from a market dominated by lower-end handsets known as feature phones to one that is increasingly smartphone-centric,” IHS senior analyst Wayne Lam said in a statement on Wednesday.

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