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Smartphone Shipments Expected to Drop for the Third Consecutive Year in 2019, According to IDC

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, the smartphone market continues to be challenged and 2019 is projected to experience its third consecutive year of declining shipments. Worldwide smartphone volumes are forecast to fall by 0.8% in 2019 with volumes dipping to 1.39 billion. However, the smartphone market will begin to pick up momentum this year with year-over-year growth of 2.3% expected in the second half of the year. Over the long term, smartphone shipments are forecast to reach 1.54 billion units in 2023.

"The biggest question that remains unanswered is what will bring the smartphone industry back to growth," said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. "There is no question industry growth has been down for reasons that have already been identified – longer replacement cycles, a challenged China market, and geopolitical headwinds – but it is shortsighted to overlook the possibilities of some important technology advancements that are within reach with 5G probably being the most significant."

The current year is expected to witness a new high for technological innovation with the introduction of foldable devices and 5G smartphones. Marketing buzz around 5G is in its early stages but expected to ramp up quickly. And while use cases for upgrading to a 5G device/service remain unclear, it is evident that after 2019 the adoption will begin to attain significant numbers. IDC currently expects 5G smartphone shipments to account for roughly 1 out of every 4 smartphones shipped globally in 2023.

"Though the 5G developments and foldable screen buzz is yet to have a reality check from users, 2019 will be surely marked as a year of modernization in the smartphone market," said Sangeetika Srivastava, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. 

Worldwide Smartphone Platform Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, 2019 and 2023(shipments in millions)

Generation

2019 Shipment Volume

2019 Market Share

2019 Year-Over-Year Growth

2023 Shipment Volume

2023 Market Share

2023 Year-Over-Year Growth

3G

57.5

4.1%

-25.4%

34.6

2.2%

-3.4%

4G

1,330.6

95.4%

0.2%

1,105.9

71.7%

-4.4%

5G

6.7

0.5%

N/A

401.3

26.0%

23.9%

Total

1,394.9

100.0%

-0.8%

1,541.8

100.0%

1.7%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, February 22, 2019

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