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Consumers Bought More Smartphones Than PCs in 2011

by Brandon Russell | February 5, 2012February 5, 2012 11:00 am PST

Canalys Smartphone Shipments 2011Everybody enjoys a healthy dose of “I can’t believe that data is actually real,” and this bit from Canalys fits the bill nicely. According to data collected by the¬†analyses¬†company, consumers bought more smartphones than PCs in 2011 – that’s tablets, netbooks, notebooks and desktops combined. Who knew this day would come so soon? Global smartphone shipments reached 487.7 million units last year, while the PC market gathered in 414.6 million units.

With smartphones fulfilling much of our consuming needs – browsing the web, playing games, watching videos – it’s no wonder they’ve become the top choice amongst consumers worldwide. Canalys highlights the tremendous success of both Apple and Samsung in particular throughout 2011 – iPhone shipments topped 93 million, while Samsung shipped nearly 92 million.

Smart phone shipments overtaking those of client PCs should be seen as a significant milestone, said Chris Jones, Canalys VP and principal analyst. In the space of a few years, smart phones have grown from being a niche product segment at the high-end of the mobile phone market to becoming a truly mass-market proposition.

Interestingly, the PC market still managed to grow by 15 percent due in large part to the increasing popularity of tablets. In fact, tablet adoption went up 274 percent year-over-year, while desktops only went up 2.3 percent. It just goes to show consumers’ desire for mobile technology.

Canalys also includes a breakdown of data by OS: Android garnered nearly half of the smartphone market, while iOS got almost 20 percent. BlackBerry came in behind Symbian at 10.5 percent, while Windows Phone was near the bottom of the list with a mere 1.4 percent.

Smartphone technology is only getting better, and with Mobile World Congress coming at the end of this months, expect to see some really great product announcements that’ll almost certainly help the market grow even more. Don’t count out PCs just yet, though, as manufacturers, as seen at CES, are putting a lot of faith in the ultrabook market.

[via Canalys]

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...