Apple to ship 86 million iPhones in '11, researcher says

DigiTimes Research expects Apple's handset sales to grow nearly 82 percent this year, compared with 2010 when it shipped 47.5 million iPhones.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
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DigiTimes thinks Apple will lead the way in total smartphone shipments this year.
DigiTimes predicts that Apple will lead the way in total smartphone shipments this year. DigiTimes Research

Apple will lead all smartphone vendors in total shipments this year, DigiTimes Research predicted today.

According to the market research arm of the Taiwan-based news site, 462 million smartphones are expected to ship worldwide this year, up 60 percent compared with the 288 million smartphones shipped last year. Apple is expected to lead all vendors this year with 86.4 million iPhones shipped, representing an 81.9 percent gain over last year when 47.5 million iPhones shipped.

Nokia, which led the smartphone market last year with 100.3 million units shipped, will ship just 74.4 million smartphones this year, representing a 25.8 percent drop, DigiTimes Research predicts. Samsung will witness extremely strong growth by the end of 2011, seeing its smartphone shipments rise 191.3 percent year over year to settle at 67 million shipments this year.

Companies in China, namely Huawei and ZTE, will see the strongest growth this year with shipments growing 484.4 percent and 330.3 percent, respectively, DigiTimes Research says. That said, their 2011 shipments will only hit 18.7 million and 14.2 million units, respectively.

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DigiTimes' forecast for iPhone shipments is lower than what the publication itself reported last month. At that time, it said that Apple could ship as many as 95 million iPhones this year. It based those estimates on reports from suppliers, claiming Apple had upped its iPhone orders from 50 million units to 56 million.

For its part, Apple hasn't estimated how many iPhones it will ship this year. However, so far, the company has been performing exceedingly well. During its fiscal third quarter that ended June 25, Apple sold 20.3 million iPhones. This followed a similarly successful fiscal second quarter, which ended March 26 and saw 18.7 million iPhone unit sales.

Much of Apple's late-2011 performance may depend on the iPhone 5. That device, which has been rumored for months now, has yet to be revealed. However, the latest rumors suggest the device could launch later this month or next month. When it does, it could come with a slew of improvements, including a bigger display, improved processor, and better camera.