MUMBAI: The Indian mobile phone sector will grow by an average of 13% over the next four years, with sales boosted by the popularity of dual SIM handsets.

According to IDC, a consultancy, handset shipments reached 47.1m units in the third quarter of 2011, up 12% from the previous three months and equating to a year-on-year increase of almost 14%.

Looking further ahead, IDC said it expected 184.4m mobile phones to ship in India across the whole of 2011. By 2015, annual shipments are forecast to reach 301m, a compound annual growth rate of 13%.

In the latest results, dual SIM devices – which are particularly popular among people on lower incomes who wish to share ownership of a phone – outperformed other categories, rising 25% from the previous quarter.

More broadly, the mobile phone sector as a whole benefitted from retailers building their inventories of handsets ahead of what is anticipated to be a busy festival period, Deepak Kumar, research director at IDC, India said.

Dual SIM's popularity is thought to have provided a boost for Nokia, which launched several handsets of this type in India in September 2011.

The Finnish carrier's share of India's mobile phone market was up 6.8% from the previous quarter, rising to 31.8%. Samsung was in second place on 17.5%.

Included in the overall increase in mobile shipments was a 21.4% quarter-on-quarter rise for smartphones, which are more popular among urban consumers on higher incomes.

Nokia also remained the market leader in the smartphone handset market with a share of 35% for the three-month period.

But Android gained the top spot for smartphone operating systems, taking a market share of just over 42%.

IDC said that smartphone shipments should increase by an average of 63% each year to 2015, with annual units shipped eventually reaching 77.5m.

Warc subscribers can get more in-depth analysis of India's "big three" mobile networks – Bharti Airtel, Reliance Telecom and Vodafone – in this recent Warc Exclusive paper.

Data sourced from IDC; additional content by Warc staff