‘Worldwide smartphone sales to fall by 2.5% in 2019’ Largest declines in Japan, Western Europe, North America: Gartner

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Worldwide sales of smartphones to end users will total 1.5 billion units in 2019, a 2.5% decline year over year, says Gartner Inc. However, it expects smartphone sales will grow again in 2020 on the back of broader availability of 5G models and the promotion of 5G service packages in various parts of the world by communications service providers (CSPs). Analysts also expect the first 5G Apple iPhone to launch in 2020, which should entice iPhone users to upgrade.

5G Smartphone Sales to Ramp Up in Second Half of 2020

image-Annette Zimmerman VP Analyst at Gartner - Munich on MediaBrief“Lengthening smartphone replacement cycles and a ban on Huawei accessing technology from U.S.-based suppliers weakened demand for smartphones in the first half of 2019,” said Annette Zimmermann, research vice president at Gartner. “We expect demand to get even weaker in the second half as replacement of high-, low- and mid-end smartphones continues to slow, due to low value benefits.”

“Although leading mobile manufacturers have started positioning their first 5G smartphones (such as the LG V50 ThinQ, OPPO Reno 5G, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G), and CSPs have started to offer some aggressively priced 5G service packages, 5G smartphone sales are set to remain small in 2019. Sales will start to ramp up in the second half of 2020 as the coverage and availability of 5G hardware services improve,” said Zimmermann.

Gartner forecasts that sales of 5G smartphones will top 15 million units in 2019, which will represent less than 1% of total smartphone sales in that year.

Japan, Western Europe and North America Will Record the Largest Declines in 2019

Japan (-6.5%), Western Europe (-5.3%) and North America (-4.4%) are set to exhibit the worst declines in sales of smartphones in 2019 (see Table 1).

image Roberta Cozza Gartner on MediaBrief

Roberta Cozza, senior research director at Gartner, said, “In mature markets, the high-end smartphone market is particularly oversupplied and commoditized, with higher average selling prices (ASPs) and no compelling new utility or experiences for users to upgrade to.

“Despite ASP increases on high-end smartphones slowing down recently, the vendors who primarily rely on replacement smartphone sales continue to face tough times,” Cozza added.

Table 1:

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Region, Worldwide 2018-2020 (Thousands of Units)

Region

2018

2019

2020

Eastern Europe47,05445,04343,911
Emerging Asia/Pacific357,208352,168382,439
Eurasia49,08349,69551,519
Greater China423,411411,095424,501
Latin America128,664125,675118,268
Mature Asia/Pacific31,17630,06230,863
Middle East and North Africa75,60776,33677,864
North America174,219166,510164,853
Sub-Saharan Africa88,75390,10491,917
Western Europe147,179139,421142,924
Japan33,91431,72231,794
Grand Total1,556,2691,517,8301,560,853

(Note: Owing to rounding, figures for 2018 and 2019 do not add up precisely to the grand totals shown. Source: Gartner (August 2019)

Gartner analysts expect total smartphone sales to decline in the second half of 2019, continuing the trend witnessed in the first half.

“The ban on Huawei (even though currently partially lifted) has created negativity around the Huawei brand and is likely to open a few opportunities for other manufacturers in overseas markets such as Western Europe,” said Zimmermann. “Despite the U.S. administration’s directive that allows U.S. suppliers to work with Huawei again, the situation remains unclear. The latter part of the second quarter of 2019 was certainly challenging for Huawei in EMEA and Latin America. However, its leading position in its home market remained unchanged.”

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