Saturated Markets Slow Smartphone Growth

After rising 27.6% YoY in 2014, smartphone shipment growth is expected to slow to 11.3% this year, says IDC. However, while overall growth will continue to decelerate, certain markets will experience strong growth in 2015 and beyond. Worldwide shipments volumes are expected to total 1.9 billion units by 2019.

This year, the worldwide smartphone market will reach two milestones. First, it is the first year in which China’s smartphone growth (expected to be 2.5%) will be slower than the global market – shipments in the country actually declined in Q1, for the first time. Second, it will be the first year in which Android growth is slower, at 8.5%. IDC expects both trends to continue to at least 2019.

China’s slowing growth leads on to the Android result. China has been an important market for Android in recent years, with a 36% market share. Chinese OEMs, shifting their focus from the domestic market to new high-growth regions, will face a number of challenges, such as competition from local brands.

Worldwide Smartphone Forecast by OS, Shipments, Market Share, Growth and 5-Year CAGR (Millions)
Vendor 2015 Units (E) 2019 Units (F) 2015 Market Share (E) 2019 Market Share (F) 2015 YoY Change (E) 2019 YoY Change (F) 5-Year CAGR
Android 1,149 1,524 79.4% 79.0% 8.5% 5.0% 7.5%
iOS 237 275 16.4% 14.2% 23.0% 3.0% 7.3%
Windows Phone 47 104 3.2% 5.4% 34.1% 13.6% 24.3%
Others 14 26 1.0% 1.4% 3.9% 7.5% 14.0%
Total 1,447 1,928 100.0% 100.0% 11.3% 5.1% 8.2%
Source: IDC

Apple faced a similar situation between 2012 and 2014, when its growth was below that of the global market. However, the recent shift to larger models and more countries has had an immediate impact on the company’s volumes. iOS smartphone shipments are forecast to rise 23% this year, and remain above the worldwide growth rate throughout the forecast.

A significant proportion of iPhone users have older models, which opens up a continued growth opportunity for Apple in the second half of 2015. Android users, who switched away from iOS to get a large-screen device, may also return to the fold. However, the price difference between Android and iOS models is still a significant hurdle for Apple to overcome.