Smartphone Growth Remains Positive as Shipments Will Grow to 1.7 Billion in 2021
According to a new forecast from IDC, worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to maintain positive growth through 2021. IDC expects shipments to grow from 1.47 billion in 2016 to just over 1.7 billion in 2021.
In 2016, the market experienced its first-ever single-digit growth year with shipments up just 2.5% over 2015. IDC believes the combination of new user demand as well as a somewhat stagnant 2-year replacement cycle will be enough to keep the market at a 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.3%.
"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," said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers.
The story around operating system market share hasn't changed much in the past couple of years and this recent forecast doesn’t call for much change. To summarize, Apple has generally held 14-15% share and Android 85% with the the bits and pieces spread across a few dying platforms. When analyzing this by market value based on non-subsidized device retail pricing the story is quite different. By 2021, IDC expects Apple to own 36% of the device market value, equaling roughly $180 billion. This is over half the combined value of all other Android OEMs combined and does not include revenue from services or its app ecosystem.
The Android OS continues to dominate on a global level and IDC expects shipments on the platform to slightly outperform the market with 2.3% year-over-year growth in 2017. In terms of volume, Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) continues to lead the way consuming nearly 55% of shipments throughout the forecast period. Growth at the high end from brands such as OPPO, Vivo, and Huawei have also led to a 17% increase in average selling price (ASP) within the region, showing that the high end has more room to grow.
Android ASP's have also risen in other big markets like Latin America, the United States, and Western Europe. With many brands opting to push premium phablet offerings to combat the likes of the larger iPhone, devices with screen sizes larger than 5.5 inches should grow 34.5% year over year in 2017 with ASPs growing 9.2% as a result.
Apple is expected to demonstrate nominal 1.5% year-over-year growth in 2017 despite the steadily growing hype around the September iPhone launch. This is a considerable improvement from the 7% decline in iPhone shipments in 2016. From there, things only get better for Apple as IDC anticipates the arrival of the iPhone 8 will spur a major upgrade cycle come 2018.
Despite the new device launching later this year, IDC expects a majority of the shipments are likely to land early in 2018. IDC projects 9.1% growth in 2018 with the iPhone 8 and the new 7S/7S+ models playing a pivotal part in the near double-digit growth next year.
Worldwide Smartphone Shipments, Market Share, and Growth, 2017 and 2021 (millions)
2017 Shipment Volume
2017 Market Share
2017 Year-over-Year Growth
2021 Shipment Volume
2021 Market Share
2021 Year-over-Year Growth