IDC forecast shipment declines of 1.9 per cent for the global smartphone market in 2019, marking the third consecutive year of drops, although things will look brighter in the second half of the year.
It expects 1.38 billion units to be shipped, with the first half of the year down 5.5 per cent. In the following six months, growth of 1.4 per cent will be driven by a 5G acceleration, a growing selection of lower-priced premium handsets and an ongoing uplift from markets including India.
While developing markets “still have a lot of upsides”, IDC noted some momentum has been lost as the transition to smartphones from feature phones has started to slow. In all markets, pricing remains a critical decision factor, which is creating new opportunities at mid-tier price points.
But the most significant, and uncertain, factor is how the US-China trade dispute will play out.
It tipped China to experience continued weakness in 2019 before flattening out early in 2020 and retuning to growth in the second half of the year, as heavy 5G marketing begins.
IDC expects 5G devices to represent around 0.5 per cent of total shipments this year, but this will grow to 26.3 per cent in 2023, driven by a quick ramp across all markets.
Sangeetika Srivastava, senior research analyst, said: “Amid all these design and 5G developments, the challenge remains that consumer demands around smartphone functionality continue to expand while their tolerance for higher-priced products continues to drop.”
“With 5G on the horizon as well as some interesting new form factors, it will be critical for vendors to continue to bring affordable products to market to reinvigorate the market’s growth.”Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back