According to Strategy Analytics, total smartphone shipments are expected to reach a little over 1.49 billion units, up from 1.47 billion in 2017. The poor showing is a repeat of numbers for 2016 and 2017 when annual growth was tallied at 1.8 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.
This is in stark contrast to double digit growth posted in the years after 2007, when Apple Inc. first launched its revolutionary iPhone.
The global research and consulting firm said the drop in shipments and sales is mainly due to overall improvements in the capabilities of the latest handsets and a longer replacement cycle for recent phones. Greater smartphone penetration across the globe and higher unit cost also may be having effect on consumer demand, it said.
SA, however, predicted that, starting in 2019, there may be an upshift in demand for smartphones as the much quicker and more stable 5G networks come online, requiring new mobile devices to fully take advantage of the new developments.
It said that in 2019, the worldwide market for smartphones may expand 3.5 percent on-year followed by 4.4 percent growth in 2020 and 4.9 percent in 2021. By 2023, it said growth will be around 4.1 percent, with companies churning out 1.86 billion phones per year.
South Korea is expected to introduce 5G in March next year, and bidding for frequencies is currently under way.
Meanwhile, market watchers say that moves by leading vendors like Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple to launch foldable phones in the near future could stimulate growth.
Samsung has hinted that its foldable smartphone may be released in first half of next year. Apple could follow suit in 2020. (Yonhap)