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Global smartphone sales may grow only 7% in 2016: Gartner

Global smartphone sales may grow only 7% in 2016: Gartner

Worldwide smartphone sales for 2016 are expected to grow only 7 percent in 2016, marking the first year for the handheld devices to post a single-digit increase in a saturated market, according to market information advisory firm Gartner.

Citing a research report, Gartner said that smartphone sales in the global market are estimated to reach 1.5 billion units, up 7 percent from a year earlier. Total mobile phone sales, meanwhile, are expected to hit 1.94 billion units this year, up slightly from the 1.92 billion units seen last year.

"The double-digit growth era for the global smartphone market has come to an end," Gartner's research director Ranjit Atwal said in a statement. "Historically, worsening economic conditions had a negligible impact on smartphone sales and spending, but this is no longer the case."

Gartner said that sales in China and North America, two of the most important smartphone markets in the world, are expected to remain flat, up only 0.7 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

The advisory firm said that although smartphone sales in emerging markets continued to grow, the pace has showed signs of slowing down.

According to Gartner, it is possible that 150 million mobile phone users in the Asia Pacific region will put their plans on hold to upgrade their feature phones to smartphones from now through 2019. It said these users are waiting until the functionality and price of a low cost smartphone become more attractive.

Annette Zimmermann, another research director at Gartner, said that smartphone prices have not fallen enough to prompt consumers to upgrade their devices from low-end feature phones to low-end smartphones.

"Vendors were not able to reduce the price of a 'good enough to use' smartphone lower than US$50," Zimmermann said.

Despite the lower sales growth in the global market, Gartner said that countries like India are expected to help generate growth in new mobile phone users. According to Gartner's estimate, smartphone sales in India for 2016 are expected to rise 29 percent, and such a double-digit pace will likely continue there in the next two years.

Users in mature markets such as North America, Western Europe, Japan, however, will likely choose to extend their phone's lifespan, according to Gartner.

(By Jeffery Wu and Frances Huang)
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Updated : 2022-05-18 18:41 GMT+08:00