Flat sales in the United States and China and slowed growth in emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region will yield the first-ever single digit growth in global smartphone sales this year, Gartner said in a new forecast.
According to the report, worldwide smartphone sales are expected to grow just seven percent in 2016 to reach a total of 1.5 billion units.
The mobile phone market as a whole is expected to grow from $1.92 billion in 2015 to $1.94 billion this year, while global combined shipments for all devices – including PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones – are expected to grow just 0.6 percent to 2.4 billion units, the forecast said.
The sluggish smartphone growth will come in part from flat smartphone sales in the United States in China, which are expected to achieve growth of just 0.7 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
In mature markets like these, as well as those in Western Europe and Japan, Gartner said it also expects to see an extension of the smartphone lifecycle as technology updates “become incremental rather than exponential.”
Smartphone sales growth is also expected to slow down in the Asia-Pacific, where Gartner expects 150 million users through 2019 to delay upgrading their devices until manufacturers hit on the right combination of features and price.
“Prices did not decline enough to drive upgrades from low-end feature phones to low-end smartphones,” said Gartner research director Annette Zimmermann. “Vendors were not able to reduce the price of a ‘good enough to use’ smartphone lower than $50.”
According to Gartner, however, one bright spot for smartphone sales will be India, which is expected to see double-digit growth over the next two years.
The prediction of slow growth in 2016 follows a report from Gartner last month in which it revealed global smartphone sales growth in the fourth quarter dipped to its lowest level since 2008.
During that quarter, Gartner said only two of the top five smartphone vendors – Samsung and Huawei – managed to increase their sales to end users.