Blog Post

Canalys: Worldwide Smartphone Shipments Overtake PC/Tablet Market

Even if you throw the exploding tablet market in with the staid PC market, shipments of smartphones surpassed those of “client PCs” in 2011, a milestone for the computer industry.

New data released by Canalys shows that smartphone vendors shipped 488 million smartphones during 2011, a 62.7 percent jump compared to 2010. Client PC shipments increased by 14.8 percent to 415 million units, and only hit that mark because Canalys counted the 63 million “pads” sold during 2011 (the overwhelming majority of which were iPads) as part of its total.

Personally, I think the tablet market should be counted separately as its own phenomenon: it bears little resemblance to the traditional PC and is used quite differently. But the true point is that the smaller screen continues to blow up as smartphones penetrate every corner of the planet.

And while the gap between the iPhone and Android devices sold in the U.S. may have narrowed significantly during the fourth quarter, thanks to the launch of the iPhone 4S, Android was still much larger on a worldwide basis. During the fourth quarter, Android phones accounted for 51.6 percent of the global smartphone market, compared to 23.4 percent for the iPhone.

The beleaguered BlackBerry managed to eke out a year-over-year gain in shipments, but fourth-quarter BlackBerry shipments fell 9.7 percent worldwide compared to the fourth quarter of 2010. Sounds like the BlackBerry 7 devices aren’t selling, and RIM’s argument that it is still growing in countries other than the U.S. may be losing steam.