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Low-cost smartphone shipments to double annually until 2016

Posted: 01 Nov 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:low-cost smartphone shipment? Asia Pacific? TFT LCD? LTPS?

According to the latest data from NPD, low-cost smartphones, defined as models with a selling price of less than $150, is a strong growth opportunity for the mobile phone industry. The shipments of the products are seen to double every year from 2010 to 2016, increasing from 4.5 to 311 million, said the market research firm.

"Most mobile phone subscribers around the world can't afford to spend more than $200 for a smartphone, on top of their service plans," noted Shawn Lee, research director at NPD DisplaySearch. "Low-cost smartphone manufacturers create these new products quickly without much investment, which has allowed them to extend their telecom subscriber base to emerging regions."

Most of the demand (60 per cent) is from the Asia Pacific region, where a large majority of component suppliers and manufacturing factories are locatedproviding both time and cost savings. These solutions have a shorter lifetime than high-end smartphones and are manufactured via ready-made solutions from application processor manufacturers. The product mix is complex, requiring continuous development cycles for new products.

To keep prices low, the key requirements for components are low cost and readily available supply. Android is the most popular OS for low-cost smartphone designs because it is open source. Brands and manufactures tend to use mature, low-price components, rather than developing new ones. For the display, this means standard a-Si TFT LCD rather than high-resolution LTPS.

Figure 1: Android-Based Low Cost Smartphone Shipments by Region.
Source: NPD DisplaySearch Smartphones: Displays, Designs and Functionality report

The penetration rate of Android-based low-cost smartphones is increasing, with NPD DisplaySearch forecasting their share to grow from two per cent of total smartphone shipments in 2012 to 29 per cent in 2016. Local brands and "white box" vendors in China have taken an aggressive stance in capturing market share.

Figure 2: Penetration of Low-Cost Smartphones.
Source: NPD DisplaySearch Smartphones: Displays, Designs and Functionality report

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