Last year may very well be the last period of double-digit smartphone growth the industry will see through 2020, a new report from the International Data Corporation (IDC) concluded.
According to IDC figures, smartphone shipments in 2016 are only projected to grow about 5.7 percent over 2015 numbers to 1.5 billion units. That single-digit growth trend, the IDC has forecast, will likely hold steady through a 2020 when shipment volumes are expected to hit 1.92 billion.
While 2015 saw overall growth of 10.4 percent globally, regions including the United States, China and Western Europe all already saw their growth totals slump to single digits for the year. By contrast, markets such as India, Indonesia, the Middle East and Africa and sections Southeast Asia all maintained healthy growth, the IDC said.
IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker program director Ryan Reith said device manufacturers like Apple will need to and have taken strategic action to counter the slowdown.
“The mature market slowdown has some grave consequences for Apple, as well as the high-end Android space, as these were the markets that absorbed the majority of the premium handsets that shipped over the past five years,” Reith said.
Reith said Apple, which recently forecast its first sales decline in more than a decade, has been proactive in implementing its own “Trade Up with Installments” program. While appealing on the surface to new-tech hungry consumers, Reith said the program is likely aimed at increasing device churn in Apple’s most lucrative markets despite high penetration.
Additionally, Reith said the offering allows Apple to more tightly control the trade-in offers it receives and keep an eye on demand for where those year-old iPhones end up.
By operating system, IDC said Android shipments are expected to grow from 1.17 billion in 2015 to 1.62 billion in 2020, with corresponding market share growth from 81 percent to 85 percent.
IDC said the shipment volume for iPhones will likely remain flat at around 231 million in 2016 before returning to growth in 2017. By 2020, shipments of iOS devices are expected to hit 269 million.
Shipments of Windows Phones are expected to total just 23.8 million in 2016 and dip to 17.8 million by 2020.