Global smartphone sales up as consumers opt for pricier, bigger devices

By Jim O'Neill on Aug 22 2016 at 7:45 AM
Global smartphone sales up as consumers opt for pricier, bigger devices

Mid- and high-end smartphone sales are accelerating globally, said researcher GfK, with high-volumes of device sales expected from emerging markets like Africa, parts of Asia and China.

Mobile video is likely a significant market driver as the percentage of sale of phones with larger screens also has increased.

GfK said it expects the trend of sub-$100-phone sales to reverse this year and now expects annual sales to reach nearly $ 426 billion, up 4.9% from $406 billion in 2015. The researcher earlier had forecast a decrease in revenue for the market to less than $401 billion.

GfK said it expects 1.394 billion units to be sold this year, and increase of 5.1% from a year ago.

Sales in North America are on “hold,” as many consumers are waiting for new phones, like Apple's iPhone 7, to be released later this year. Second quarter sales were off 6% from a year ago.

GfK forecast full year unit sales in North America at 188.1 million device, off 1% from a year ago, as consumers slowly complete their upgrades to smartphones from feature phones and to 4G from 3G.

Globally, second quarter unit sales were $330.1 million, up  6.9%  percent from a year ago, with sales hitting $99.7 billion, a hike of 6.2%

Shipments in China were up 24% to $109.7 million units, on sales of $32.4 billion, a 20% increase.

GfK said much of that growth was driven by users in rural areas, and said it expects full-year sales to reach 439 million units, up 14% Y/Y.

Q2 Unit sales in Central and Eastern Europe grew 12% with full-year projections of 77.1 million devices, up 8%.

In LatAm, the second quarter saw a 10% increase in revenues, despite an 8% decline in unit sales, with GfK expecting annual sales revenue to reach $94.3 million, a decline of 11%.

Sales in Western Europe were off 1% overall to 30 million devices, but increased tariffs in Spain stalled sales and produced an 11% decline Y/Y; unit sales in the United Kingdom also were down, about 2%, while France was up 3% and Germany 1%.

The trending increase in unit-price – smartphones costing more than $500 will make up 35% of unit sales this year compared to 31% a year ago – will help the Western European market grow to $54.2 billion this year, an increase of 2%, despite a 1% decline in device sales to 134 million units.

In Western Europe, meanwhile, some 60% of phones sold had screens of at least 5 inches, up from just 38% a year ago.

Stay tuned.                                                             

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