IDC: Worldwide smartphone sales will stay down before bouncing back in 2019

After declining 0.3% in 2017, the worldwide smartphone market is expected to contract again in 2018 before returning to growth in 2019 and beyond. According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone shipments are forecast to drop 0.2% in 2018 to 1.462 billion units, which is down from 1.465 billion in 2017 and 1.469 billion in 2016.

  • Looking further out, the market is forecast to grow roughly 3% annually from 2019 onwards with shipments reaching 1.654 billion in 2022 and a five-year compound annual growth rate of 2.5%.
  • The biggest driver of the 2017 downturn was China, where the market declined 4.9% year over year. IDC forecasts that figure to decline another 7.1% before flattening out in 2019.
  • The biggest upside in Asia/Pacific continues to be India with volumes expected to grow 14% and 16% in 2018 and 2019 – supplied primarily by Chinese OEMs.

The other catalyst to watch will be the introduction of 5G smartphones the first of which will appear in Q4 2019. IDC projects 5G smartphone volumes to account for roughly 7% of all smartphones in 2020 or 212 million in total. The share of 5G devices should grow to 18% of total volumes by 2022.

With 2017 now behind us a lot of interesting market dynamics are unfolding. Even though it declined 5% in 2017, China remains the focal point for many given that it consumes roughly 30% of the world’s smartphones. But plenty of pockets of growth can be found beyond China. India is now grabbing headlines and the market itself is going through some rapid transformation.

Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers


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