Smartphone units to hit 1.7B in 2017; Android to dominate

According to research firm Ovum, the smartphone market will see a compound annual growth rate over the next several years of 25 percent.

Josh Miller/CNET

Smartphone shipments are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 24.9 percent over the next five years, according to research firm Ovum.

With that kind of growth, the firm expects total smartphone shipments to hit 1.7 billion units by 2017, easily outpacing the 488 million devices that hit store shelves in 2011. And as more devices ship worldwide over the coming years, expect Android to reign supreme.

"Android will dominate the smartphone market over the next five years," Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum, said today in a statement. "While Apple has defined the smartphone market since it introduced the iPhone in 2007, we're now seeing a sharp rise in the shipment volumes of Android, signaling its appeal to leading handset manufacturers."

According to Ovum, Android owned 44 percent of the smartphone market in 2011, up from 17 percent market share in 2010. By 2017, the company expects Android to nab 48 percent of the market, nearly doubling Apple's 27 percent market share. With help from Nokia, Microsoft's Windows Phone could muster 13 percent market share in 2017. And even with all of its troubles, RIM could maintain 10 percent share that year.

The smartphone market has been experiencing explosive growth over the last few years. For the first time, in 2011, smartphone shipments outpaced PC shipments, which hit 415 million units on the year, according to research firm Canalys.

"Smart phone shipments overtaking those of client PCs should be seen as a significant milestone," Canalys vice president and principal analyst Chris Jones said in a statement earlier this year. "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."