For the first time, global smartphone sales are set to post single-digit growth in 2016, according to Gartner.Gartner forecasts that global smartphone sales will reach an estimated 1.5 billion units this year, up 7 per cent from 2015, while the total mobile phone market is forecast to reach 1.9 billion units.
“The double-digit growth era for the global smartphone market has come to an end,” Ranjit Atwal, Gartner research director, commented.
“Historically, worsening economic conditions had negligible impact on smartphone sales and spend, but this is no longer the case. China and North America smartphone sales are on pace to be flat in 2016, exhibiting a 0.7 per cent and 0.4 per cent growth, respectively.”
Smartphone sales are expected to continue to grow in emerging markets, however growth will slow, with Gartner predicting that through to 2019 150 million users will delay upgrades to smartphones in emerging Asia Pacific, until the combination of functionality and price of low-cost models becomes more desirable.
In mature markets, such as North America, Western Europe, Japan and mature Asia Pacific, Gartner analysts expect there will be an extension of phone lifetimes among users.
“As carriers’ deals become more complex, users are likely to hold onto phones, especially as the technology updates become incremental rather than exponential,” Annette Zimmermann, Gartner research director, commented.
“In addition, the volumes of users upgrading from basic phones to premium phones will slow, with more basic phones being replaced with the same type of phone.”
Meanwhile, worldwide combined shipments for devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) are expected to reach 2.4 billion units this year, up 0.6 per cent from 2015, with end-user spending in constant US dollars estimated to decline by 1.6 per cent year-on-year.
The global PC shipment market is expected to total 284 million units this year, down 1.5 per cent year-on-year, with traditional PCs on pace to decline 6.7 per cent.
“In 2016, the PC market will reach its last year of decline before returning to growth in 2017,” Atwal commented.
“The biggest challenge, and potential benefit for the PC market, is the integration of Windows 10 with Intel’s Skylake architecture. It has the potential for new form factors with more attractive features.”
Ultramobile (basic and utility tablets) demand will continue to weaken, declining 3.4 per cent in 2016, with Gartner noting that users are not only extending lifetimes, but that some will also fail to replace these devices at all through the year.