Thanks to new user demand and a stagnant replacement cycle, International Data Corp., the market research firm, expected smartphone shipments around the world to continue to grow through 2021.
In a press release IDC said it expected shipments to hit 1.7 billion in 2021, up from 1.47 billion last year. In 2016 the smartphone market saw its first ever single-digit growth year, with shipments rising just 2.5 percent compared with 2015. The firm thinks that new users coming online and a two-year replacement cycle that failed to take off could be enough for a five-year compound annual growth rate of 3.3 percent.
“The big inflection point that everyone is watching for is when the smartphone market experiences its first year-over-year decline,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, in a press release highlighting the results. “We believe the two main catalysts for continued growth are bringing first-time users onto a smartphone and maintaining life cycles that are close to two years. At the end of 2016, we estimated that about half of the world’s population was using a smartphone, which leaves plenty of room for additional first-time users. And, despite very high saturation levels in mature markets like North America, Western Europe, Korea and Japan, we still see the majority of users replacing their handsets roughly every two years. We expect these trends will hold through the forecast.”
As for the mobile operating systems, IDC said nothing much has changed during the last two years. Apple still has around 14 percent to 15 percent OS share, while Android still dominates, with 85 percent of the market share. By 2021, IDC predicts Apple will own 36% of the device market value, equaling roughly $180 billion.