Global smartphone market drops 9% in biggest ever fall

The global smartphone market fell 9% a year this quarter, the best fall in smartphone history, with even Apple’s iPhone sales down 1% as users wait on their phones longer.

For Apple, that is certainly shipping 5m fewer smartphones than just a last year, the decline is offset by a boost in the standard sale price of its iPhone, with thanks to the rise in popularity of its 1,000 iPhone X.

But as Samsung yet others join Apple in pushing the very best end within the industry to higher prices the consideration in new phones is apparently waning. Data from Strategy Analytics shows global smartphone shipments shrank year-on-year from 438.7m to 400.2m in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Linda Sui, director at Strategy Analytics, said: “It was the main annual fall in smartphone history. The shrinkage in global smartphone shipments was the result of collapse in the huge China market, where demand fell 16% annually resulting from longer replacement rates, fewer operator subsidies along with a general absence of ‘wow models’.”

The iPhone X adopted the market industry trend of all-screen designs first introduced by the Samsung Galaxy S8 in March. But big leaps in smartphone features, including ever better cameras, can be behind us, with incremental increases in artificial intelligence now utilizing the spotlight.

“We’re addressing the point where photo quality is already so excellent which the focus is turning to the smarts that you just build beyond that,” Google’s vice chairman product manager Mario Queiroz, said in 2009.

Whether that could be enough to excite buyers and drive upgrades remains seen.

“Global iPhone volumes have actually declined on an annual basis for five of the past eight quarters,” said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics. “If Apple desires to expand shipment volumes in the foreseeable future, it’ll need to launch a fresh wave of cheaper iPhones and begin to push down, not up, the pricing curve.”

Despite the shrinkage during the last quarter your entire market crossed 1.5bn smartphones shipped the very first time in 2017, up 1.3%. But it’s far within the year-on-year increase of 158m and 12.3% in 2015 and smaller still compared to the 48m and 3.3% development of 2016, as developed nations hit saturation point and new buyers become upgraders C a substantially harder sell.

  • 2017: the year smartphones went all-screen and had baked-in AI

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