The worldwide smartphone market will see its first year of single digit year-on-year growth in 2015, reflecting a slowdown in Asia Pacific (excluding Japan), Latin America and Western Europe.

According to research firm IDC, the slowed growth is expected to continue over the 2015 to 2019 forecast period, which was attributed to a lower shipment forecast for Windows Phone and “alternative” platforms (other than Android and iOS).

The market will still expand by 9.8 per cent in 2015 to 1.43 billion units. By 2019, the market will have reached 1.86 billion, a five-year CAGR of 7.4 per cent.

While China has seen a lot of attention in recent quarters as its economic slowdown has impacted worldwide growth “due to the sheer size of the market”, IDC said that this has now “largely become a replacement market”.

Contrastingly, the Middle East and Africa will see the highest growth in 2015 with shipments expected to increase nearly 50 per cent year-on-year, passing “hot growth” markets like India and Indonesia.

“The main driver has been and will continue to be the success of low-cost smartphones in emerging markets. This, in turn, will depend on capturing value-oriented first-time smartphone buyers as well as replacement buyers,” Ryan Reith, programme director for IDC’s worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker, said.

Interestingly, Reith said that in a number of high-growth markets, replacement cycles will be less than the typical two-year rate, “mainly because the components that comprise a sub-$100 smartphone simply do not have the ability to survive two years”.

In terms of platforms, IDC said it “fully expects some form of Android to hold a dominant share of the smartphone OS space for the foreseeable future”. Despite “numerous” attempts by alternative platforms, none have proved successful.

But despite the efforts of Microsoft, IDC said it “does not expect Microsoft’s share of the smartphone OS market to grow much over the coming years”.