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After Explosive Growth, Smartphone Sales Take A Breather: Report

<p>After years of record growth, smartphone sales may stall a bit in established markets while developing ones get up to speed, IDC researchers say.</p>
Devin Coldewey / NBC News

After years of record growth in which smartphones edged from luxury towards necessity, the ubiquitous devices are approaching saturation in the US and other markets, according to research firm IDC. Sales will still grow this year, but at a slower rate — and largely in developing countries.

2013 saw smartphones pass the billion-units-sold mark, a massive 39 percent increase over the previous year. But IDC expects that growth rate to halve globally to around 19 percent this year — and even drop to single digits in mature markets like the US and Europe, where smartphone penetration is already high.

That means most of the increase in sales will take place in developing markets like India, southeast Asia, and Africa. This is corroborated by the plummeting price of smartphones: nearly a third of such devices sold last year went for under $150, and now companies like Mozilla are aiming at putting out phones for as low as $25.

With a focus on non-US markets and consumers on a budget, this year may not be a firecracker sales-wise, but it will see the power of smartphones delivered more evenly over the face of the world.