IDC Predicts First Smartphone Industry Downturn

This has never happened before. The global smartphone market is posting its first single-digital growth year on record.

That?EU?s according to the latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker from market research firm IDC. The firm predicts worldwide shipments will grow 9.8% to hit 1.43 billion units this year, thanks in part to slowing growth in Latin America, Western Europe and the Asia Pacific. The slower-than-expected growth actually signifies an industry downturn.

And that?EU?s not the worst of the bad news for smartphone makers. That slowing growth is going to get even slowing through 2019, IDC predicts, due largely to lower Windows Phone sales, as well as fewer sales of phones running platforms outside Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

All Eyes on China

With the smartphone market finally slowing to single-digit growth, Ryan Reith, a program director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said maintaining momentum will depend on several factors. The main driver, he said, has been and will continue to be the success of low-cost smartphones in emerging markets.

?EU?This, in turn, will depend on capturing value-oriented first-time smartphone buyers as well as replacement buyers,?EU? Reith said. ?EU?We believe 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. Offering products that appeal to both types of buyers at a suitable price point will be crucial to maintaining growth and vendor success."

All eyes in the smartphone industry are on China. Because of the sheer size of the market, the economic slowdown in the Asian nation is putting a damper on global growth. But IDC argues that China is mainly a replacement market with low-single digit impacts on the broader industry. Meanwhile, the Middle East will see...

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