Smartphone sales may have topped 1 billion in 2013, depending on who you ask

You once had to look to the broader cellphone market to see more than a billion phones ship in one year. Well, times have changed... at least, if you ask the right analysts. IDC now estimates that smartphone shipments topped one billion for the first time in 2013. However, Strategy Analytics begs to differ -- it reckons that shipments fell just short, at 990 million. Whether or not the industry hit its symbolic milestone, the roughly 40 percent increase over 2012 data shows that the smartphone market had plenty of room to grow last year. Samsung led the pack with 31.3 percent of the the market, while Apple dipped to 15.3 percent as both Samsung and Chinese manufacturers (including Huawei and Lenovo) chipped away at its second-place position.

As for what happened in the fourth quarter? Both analyst groups say that Samsung was once again the top vendor, although they note that the Korean firm's share was largely flat at 29 percent. Not that Apple fared any better, as its record-setting iPhone shipments weren't enough to prevent a slide to 18 percent share. Huawei, LG and Lenovo were the real victors -- each of them typically gained a point or more of share in the past year. IDC chalks some of this up to the rise of very low-cost smartphones, which are quickly taking over developing markets like China and India. Companies which focus on more expensive handsets, such as Apple and Samsung, have the most to lose in these areas.

IDC smartphone market share for Q4 2013