The global smartphone market is still growing at a steady pace as adoption in emerging markets ticks up swiftly.
In total, global smartphone shipments grew roughly 35% year-over-year (YoY) in the fourth quarter of 2014, culminating a year in which the market surpassed the 1 billion shipments milestone for the first time, according to BI Intelligence estimates.
As smartphone adoption rises worldwide, the major smartphone platform war continues to play out between Apple and Google, while Microsoft still aims to grow its small slice of total shipments.
On the vendor side, Samsung has tried to fend off pressure from low-cost vendors out of China while also succumbing to pressure from Apple on the high-end of the market.
In a new report from BI Intelligence, we update our smartphone forecast to reflect stronger, steadier growth in the near term. We look at how the feature phone is faring as more and more consumers upgrade to their first smartphone, discuss the rise of India as the next high-growth market, and take a fresh look at how the platform and vendor wars are shaking out globally.
Here are a few key points about how smartphone shipments are performing and how they are influencing the global platform and vendor wars:
- The global smartphone market is still growing at a steady pace thanks to more widespread adoption in emerging markets. We estimate the global market will grow at a 16% compound rate from 2015 to 2020 to hit about 3.4 billion units shipped in 2020.
- Low-cost smartphones are proliferating across emerging markets, driving the feature phone closer to obsolescence. Feature phones now account for just 25% of total mobile phone shipments worldwide.
Shipments growth continues to be driven by emerging markets, but already China is maturing, and India is becoming the new growth engine. Shipments in the Indian market will grow roughly 31% per year on average through 2020, compared to 8% average annual growth in China.
- The global platform wars are still playing out, with Apple able to push back against Android dominance on the backs of new device launches. After the release of the iPhone 6 line, Apple was able to grow market share in the fourth quarter 8 percentage points from a year earlier.
- On the vendor side, Apple’s strong quarter came at the expense of Samsung. Apple iPhone shipments grew 46% YoY in the fourth quarter — the highest growth rate in two years — while Samsung shipments fell 7% YoY during the period.
In full, the report:
- Forecasts global smartphone shipments through 2020.
- Discusses drivers for steady smartphone market growth going forward, including falling smartphone prices and the increasing obsolescence of feature phones.
- Breaks down India’s growing role in the global smartphone market’s future growth.
- Offers insights on the global smartphone platform and vendor wars.