Smartphone shipments to hit $300 billion in 2014

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Despite declining average selling prices (ASP) and signs of saturation in developed markets,smartphone shipments are set to hit a record high in 2014.

The smartphone industry will reach $300 billion in wholesale shipment revenues this year, up from $280 billion in 2013, Counterpoint Research forecasts. Wholesale shipment revenue measures shipments by a manufacturer, like Apple of Samsung, to the first point in its distribution channel such as a mobile network operator.

Apple boost

"Apple is to thank for the new record high," Neil Shah,research director at Counterpoint Research told CNBC.

Apple alone will contribute roughly a third of smartphone industry revenues this year thanks to the blowout success of its latest models, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which were launched in September and an expansion of its sales channels in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

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Within just two weeks of its launch, the iPhone 6 series generated more than three times Xiaomi's total smartphone revenues over the entire third quarter, said Shah.

The Cupertino-based company will cross the $100 billion mark in iPhone hardware revenues this year, the first time in history for any mobile phone manufacturer.

While the ASP of smartphones is falling, Apple's strong branding has enabled the company retain its pricing power, helping to offset declines in the broader industry.

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Apple's ASP stood at around $605 in the third quarter, when it launched its new devices, up from $560 in the previous three months, according to Counterpoint. This was partly driven by the iPhone 6 Plus, the company's first phablet, which is priced well above its smaller-screened cousins.

Globally, the ASP smartphones currently stands at $238, down from $271 in 2013, according to Counterpoint, driven by commoditization of the market.

"As the industry matures, the average selling price goes down because component prices are going down as well," Neilsaid.

Further gains ahead

Despite headwinds facing the sector, Neil expects smartphone wholesale shipment revenues to rise further in 2015 to around $320 billion.

However, it may not be all because of Apple.

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Rising demand in emerging markets like India, Brazil and Indonesia will also help drive shipments, said Neil.

While the ASP of smartphones in these countries is low, they will make up for it in volume, he noted.

Smartphones shipments are forecast to reach 1.5 billion units next year, up from an estimated 1.3 billion this year, according to Counterpoint.