The phenomenal growth in the smartphone market has made handsets the preferred method of personal computing, according to researchers.
A report from research firm Canalys found that in 2011, smartphone sales topped total PC sales for the first time.
The company estimated that over the course of the year handset sales grew by 62.7 per cent, culminating in a fourth quarter which saw vendors ship more than 158 million units. Overall, Canalys tallied 487.7 million smartphone shipments.
By contrast, the firm found that the desktop, notebook, netbook and tablet markets combined for 414.6 million shipments in 2011. The gap was particularly evident in the fourth quarter, when 158.5 handset sold compared to 120.2 million PCs.
"Smart phone shipments overtaking those of client PCs should be seen as a significant milestone," said Canalys vice president and principal analyst Chris Jones.
"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."
The explosion in handset sales has had a significant impact on the manufacturing space as well. A recent report from analyst firm IHS found that mobile device vendors had displaced PC makers as the top buys of semiconductor components.
That growth could soon be slowing, however.
Canalys expects smartphone sales to tail off a bit in 2012, particularly as vendors shift their focus from low-end devices to more expensive models.
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