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Smartphone, tablet shipments could hit a billion worldwide this year

An IDC graph showing growth rates of the different device classes.IDC

A new report from tracking firm IDC shows that tablets and smartphones are outstripping the growth of desktop and laptop PCs by huge margins. In fact, 2013 could see the more portable devices hit a billion units shipped for the first time ever.

IDC's report, breaking down the global "smart connected device market," gives some broad statistics on how many of various types of gadgets were shipped last year, and their predictions of how that might change this year.

2012 saw PC shipments continuing their slow decline following the decades of growth experienced through the 1990s and early 2000s. In their place, people are increasingly using tablets and smartphones, which have seen enormous growth — especially in emerging markets.

In "mature" markets like the U.S. and Europe, smartphone shipments grew more than 20 percent over the previous year, and tablets more than 62 percent. But in emerging markets (China and India, for instance), those numbers are even more impressive: The smartphone market grew by nearly 70 percent, and tablet shipments more than doubled over the previous year.

As a general indicator of how fast things are going: IDC points out that in 2012, combined shipments of PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets were well over a billion units. In 2013, however, the firm says there could be a billion units shipped of smartphones and tablets alone.

More statistics, and IDC's prognosis about the next few years of growth and decline for smart devices can be found at the company's website.

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is