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Worldwide smartphone shipments to touch 1.2B this year

Apple and Samsung will account for almost half of those shipments, but vendors in emerging regions will increasingly move the market, says research firm Juniper Research.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Smartphone shipments across the world will near 1.2 billion this year -- a bounce of 19 percent from 2013 -- Juniper Research said Tuesday.

Although developed markets will continue to account for the lion's share of shipments, developing regions are becoming more vital to smartphone makers. The gap between mature markets and emerging markets is closing, noted Juniper, which cited a continued jump in sales of "low-cost economy" smartphones costing $75 to $150 and "ultra-economy" devices with price tags under $75.

Smartphone adoption in developed markets such as the US and Europe has started to reach a saturation point. To be sure, the top vendors will continue to dominate the "ultra-premium" market, with Apple and Samsung contributing almost 45 percent of all global smartphone shipments this year. But both companies saw their global smartphone market shares drop last quarter, according to a July report from Strategy Analytics.

Samsung's share fell to 25.2 percent in the second quarter from 32.6 percent in the same quarter a year ago. Over the same period, Apple's share dropped to 11.9 percent from 13.4 percent. Both have faced and will continue to face increasing competition from local vendors in emerging markets, Juniper said.

As one prime example, Chinese vendor Xiaomi has captured a healthy volume of customers and market share in both China and India with its low-cost phones. The report from Strategy Analytic dubbed Xiaomi the fifth-largest smartphone maker in the world as its second-quarter market share rose to 5.1 percent from 1.8 percent in the same quarter last year, while shipments surged to 15.1 million from 4.1 million.

Among the top six smartphone vendors cited by Strategy Analytics, Huawei, Lenovo, and Xiaomi saw their market shares rise last quarter, while Apple, Samsung, and LG saw their shares fall. And the smaller vendors may become yet more ambitious.

"These new players are beginning to build market share and achieve larger economies of scale, which eventually will enable them to expand their offerings and challenge other smartphone sectors in the future," Juniper said in its report.