Samsung says it will ship half a billion phones in 2013

Samsung expects to sell 510 million phones in 2013, the company announced on Wednesday. Samsung says most of those devices will be smart phones, cementing the company's status as the world's biggest phone manufacturer.

Tim Wimborne/Reuters/File
In this file photo, a passerby takes a picture of an Apple Store in Sydney, Australia, with a Samsung Galaxy phone. Smart phones surpassed feature phones in shipping numbers for the first time, in Q1 of 2013.

Samsung may be the biggest phone maker in the world, but it's not resting on its laurels: the Korean company announced on Wednesday that it expects to ship 510 million handsets in 2013, three-quarters of which will be smart phones.

Samsung shipped 420 million handsets in 2012, which means that if its 2013 estimate is correct it'll be a 20 percent jump for the company. The Korea Times reports that 390 million of its 2013 sales are expected to be smart phones, and that Samsung is counting on pulling away from its biggest smart-phone rival, Apple.

That estimate may be a little bit rosy: market research firm Gartner previously predicted that Samsung would sell between 250 and 300 smart phones in 2013. But no matter how you slice it, Samsung's sales have been rising sharply. The company sold 0.6 million smart phones in 2009, 23.9 million in 2010, and 97.4 million in 2011.

What's on the menu for Samsung in 2013? The company will continue to develop its popular line of Galaxy smart phones and tablets, which are rivals to Apple's iPhone and iPad. It also plans to release a line of Windows Phone 8 handsets to compete with offerings from Nokia and HTC. As fast 4G LTE networks grow, Samsung will also double down on LTE-compatible devices to meet demand, Samsung executive Kim Hyun-joon said, quoted in The Korea Times.

To produce all this hardware, Samsung will have to expand its manufacturing base. The company expects to build just 40 million devices at its Korean factory; the lion's share will come from Samsung factories in Vietnam, China, and India. The company plans to spend $2.2 billion over the next several years to expand its Vietnamese factories.

Samsung is also planning to produce devices running Tizen, an operating system it developed together with Intel. Tizen is designed to run on smart phones, tablets, TVs, computers, and even GPS units to give users a consistent experience across devices. The first Tizen devices haven't been released yet, but Samsung's 2013 phones and tablets may be among the earliest.

Samsung has had a busy year, not least because of its public legal battles with rival Apple. The latter won a $1 billion injunction against Samsung earlier in 2012, but the judgement hasn't done much to dent Samsung's momentum -- especially since Apple has been largely unsuccessful in barring Samsung smart phones from being sold. Samsung's bullish predictions for 2013 suggest that the company isn't too worried about future legal roadblocks, either.

For more tech news, follow Jeff on Twitter@jeffwardbailey.

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