BEIJING: Annual smartphone shipments should more than double to 460m units in China by 2017, according to a forecast from IDC, the insights provider.

The company reported that 213m smartphones were shipped in the world's most populous nation during 2012, equating to an annual increase of more than 100%. A total of 362m devices were shipped overall.

IDC also stated that some 800 new smartphones were launched in China last year, indicating the intense competition now observable in the country.

Smartphones took 58.8% of all shipments in 2012, reaching 73.2% in the fourth quarter. They are expected to be responsible for a 78.4% market share in 2013, rising to 90.1% by 2017.

The core drivers of demand have included the popularity of high-end gadgets made by Apple and Samsung, as well as the roll out of cheaper alternatives made by local organisations.

Domestic manufacturers, by contrast, have often struggled to gain a foothold at the more premium end of the market, the analysis added.

Another trend identified by the study was that ecommerce would play an increasingly important role, with up to 20% of new handsets being acquired via this channel in two years' time.

Data sourced from Reuters/IDC; additional content by Warc staff