IDC on Thursday raised its forecast for global smartphone shipments in 2014, and predicted that emerging markets will account for the lion's share of volumes.

The research firm said it expects shipments to reach 1.25 billion this year, an increase of 23.8% on 2013. In May, it predicted shipments would grow by 23.1% to 1.2 billion.

IDC said mature markets have consistently seen double-digit revenue growth year-on-year, but that is expected to change in 2014, with growth slowing to 4.9%. However, emerging markets will more than offset the slowdown, growing by 32.4%.

"Mature markets have slowed considerably but still deliver strong revenues with average selling prices (ASPs) over $400. Meanwhile, many emerging markets are still barrelling along, but with ASPs of less than $250," said Ramon Llamas, research manager at IDC's mobile phone team, in a research note.

"The key for vendors now is to maintain a presence in the higher-margin mature markets, while establishing a sustainable presence within the fast-growing emerging markets," said Llamas.

Of the 1.25 billion smartphones expected to be shipped this year, emerging markets will account for 920.8 million, or 73.5% of the total, IDC said, adding that Android devices are expected to account for 88.4% of emerging market shipments.

"The support that Google's Android platform has received from over 150 handset manufacturers has allowed it to gain the share it has in emerging markets," said Ryan Reith, programme director for IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

Looking further ahead, IDC predicts that annual smartphone shipments will reach 1.8 billion by 2018, with emerging markets accounting for 1.4 billion units.