While smartphones shipments will reach 1.45 billion in 2016, their year-on-year growth will go down to 0.6 per cent, according to data from research firm International Data Corporation (IDC). However, developing markets are catching up and according to the firm, 4G smartphone shipments will see double digit growth at 21.3 per cent year-over-year for the year.
Shipments of 4G-enabled smartphones will hit 1.17 billion mark. The firm says most of this growth is coming from emerging markets like Asia/Pacific (not Japan), Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and Middle East and Africa. IDC also says that in emerging markets it expects 77 per cent of smartphones shipped to have 4G capability. Developed markets like USA, Canada, Japan, and Western Europe will have a projected 94 per cent 4G-enabled smartphones being shipped. But the overall growth for smartphone market is not as strong as seen in 2015.
“It’s been a long slog for 4G uptake in many emerging markets as 4G data tariffs have long been very expensive compared to 3G, while 4G handsets themselves have also been relatively pricey across the board,” said Melissa Chau, associate research director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers in a press statement.
IDC also notes that the entry of Reliance Jio has boosted 4G shipments. “We are quickly seeing this change in key growth markets like India where new operator Reliance Jio is aggressively trying to shake up the market by handing out free 4G SIM cards and launching own-branded low-cost 4G-enabled smartphones,” added Chau.
Interestingly the 4G push will only give a temporary boost to the dying feature phone market where this has emerged as a selling point. IDC expects 4G-enabled feature phones to come up in both developing and developed markets.
“In North America and Western Europe, Google has been putting a significant amount of marketing dollars behind the new Pixel and Pixel XL, although early supply chain indications are that volumes are not at the point where Samsung or Apple should see a significant impact for Q4. Of course, as we head into 2017 this can change, but many eyes will be on Google to see how serious they are about pursuing the hardware play,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers.
In terms of market share based on OS, Android remains on top with a majority share of 85 per cent and a five per cent plus y-o-y growth. iOS has 14.3 per cent market share, but has seen a 11 per cent dip in terms of growth. Windows Phone has a 6.1 per cent with shipments declining 79.1 per cent.
According to IDC, Google turning OEM won’t affect Android’s growth negatively for now, because they is no “viable mobile platform alternatives.” It also says negative growth for iOS does not meant the end of Apple is here, and 2017 will likely see Cupertino launch something big.