2015 to see the 5 to 5.6 inch screen sized smartphone segment to overtake the 4 to 4.5 inch
Smartphone sales set a new international milestone in the fourth quarter of 2014, reaching $115 billion in shipments for the quarter shows a new study. This marks an increase of 20% year on year, according to GfK data. The number of units sold globally increased to almost 346 million in the fourth quarter, up 19% on the same period in 2013.
Overall, global smartphone sales exceeded 1.2 billion in 2014. In the fourth quarter 2014, all regions saw year on year growth in smartphones, both in terms of units and value. The one exception was Developed APAC, where subsidy changes in Korea negatively affected these already very mature markets.
The Latin America smartphone market enjoyed the highest growth with 36 million units sold in the fourth quarter 2014, a hefty 43% year on year increase. This region also saw the value of units sold increase by 37% year on year to around $10 billion.
China will remain the biggest market in terms of both unit and value sales for the foreseeable future, predicted GfK. However, growth slowed dramatically in the second half of 2014 for China. During the fourth quarter smartphone unit sales were flat year on year, although the value of units sold in China increased by 21% year on year to $28 billion, the highest ever quarterly figure.
Kevin Walsh, director of trends and forecasting at GfK, said: “The increase in the value of units sold in China, despite the recent plateauing of unit sales, is due to consumers’ rapid adoption of higher priced smartphones with larger screen sizes. This is a trend seen in most markets and GfK global data shows that the 5 to 5.6 inch segment grew by more than 130% year on year in the last quarter of 2014 and by nearly 150% in the full year. In 2015, we forecast this segment to become the dominant screen size band, surpassing 4 to 4.5 inch for the first time.”
All other regions except for North America and developed APAC saw a decrease in the average selling price in the fourth quarter 2014. Looking ahead, all regions will grow in unit terms in 2015, but growth rates will slow significantly from 2014 said GfK.
Walsh continued: “The slowdown forecast for 2015 is due to developed markets reaching saturation point. As a result, global smartphone unit growth will be only 14% this year, down from 23% in 2014. We forecast emerging regions to drive growth in 2015 as smartphones further penetrate lower price points. GfK forecasts that smartphone price bands above $150 will see a decline in their market share. At the next level down, $100-150, sales will remain stable, but it is the cheaper smartphones priced below this point that will gain share.”
The most resilient two regions in 2015, both forecast to grow by 33% in unit terms, are Emerging APAC and Middle East & Africa. Both regions still have significant room for growth as consumers migrate from feature phones and existing smartphones to trade up to a bigger screen stated GfK.