While the PC market has seen declining growth in recent years, smartphones have generally been a bright spot: phone makers have been selling more smartphones each year than the last. But that kind of growth might not last much longer.

Research from Gartner shows a slowdown in the worldwide growth rate of smartphone sales. Sure, with an estimated 330 million units sold in the second quarter of 2015, phone makers sold more smartphones than a year earlier.

But that still represents the slowest growth rate since 2013.

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The smartphone industry may be slowing, but it is still growing. New regions have seen a larger influx of sales year-over-year. Areas of Asia, Europe, Middle East, and Africa have shown to be the fastest growing regions in 2015.

The problem country seems to be China. According to Gartner, the country supplying 30 percent of total sales of smartphones worldwide declined for the first time year-over-year by four percent.

Gartner attributes the decline to saturation. There are fewer first-time smartphone buyers in China, while the upgrade rate has not had enough of an effect.

The report also divided out worldwide smartphone sales by operating system. An interesting note is that Android and iOS combined made up 96.8 percent of the entire smartphone market with Windows following far behind at only 2.5 percent of the market and BlackBerry OS at 0.3 percent. The “Other” category maxed out at 0.4 percent.

It is important to note that the numbers provided by Gartner are estimates. It’s hard to come by actual sales figures from companies like Apple that only tend to release numbers when they’re very, very good.

Additionally, the research does not take into account the upcoming smartphone launches, which could have an impact on sales in the bigger markets. Samsung recently launched the Note 5 and S6 Edge+, Blackberry’s first Android-based smartphone was just revealed, and those image leaks of the Nexus 5 look promising.

Sales growth may have slowed down during the second quarter of 2015, but it does not mean the industry is going to suffer for it.

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9 replies on “Smartphone growth on the decline”

  1. There is less need to upgrade at the same frequency as in the past. So this is the same thing as what we’ve seen with PCs.

    1. The end of carrier subsidies in the US will also play a role in less frequent upgrades.

      1. The cheaper phones that have decent specs also make a difference. Look at 2K res and batteries that last about a day and with enough CPU power to do almost anything you want on your phone whats left?

        Maybe if they can replace my PC. That would be cool or if the screen could roll up making it like a tall pencil then roll out like a sheet of paper. That would be Really COOL. But the current offerings are not revolutionary enough, more like small bumps

        1. the first phone to ship with a hardlight hologram touch display will be the one i upgrade to or Project ARA… honestly even $50-$75 phones have reached a good enough status..

        2. Yeah, that is the problem for manufacturers. Why spend $600 on a phone when a $200 model (a two-year old flagship or this year’s mid-range model) will do everything you need anyway and is still perfectly fast enough to handle just about everything you can throw at it?

          I only replaced my last two phones when I could no longer load web pages reliably on them — took about five years to get to that point each time. Something tells me that my new LG G2 (already a two year old model) will still be loading web pages just fine in another five years.

      2. I personally won’t be buying a new phone for years. I got my Galaxy S4 in 2013 for a mere $150.Now, if I want an S5 (I don’t, but the S6 is just too pricey), it’ll cost me at least 2x that. Not sure about everyone else, but I can’t afford 400+ on a phone, especially when you consider that I could buy a decent laptop for that price these days, and that my smartphones never last more than a few years (interesting how they always seem to go around the time my contract expires).

      3. “The end of carrier subsidies in the US will also play a role in less frequent upgrades.”

        Actually I think it should be the opposite. Expensive ball-and-chain multi-year contracts reduce disposable income and prevent the subscriber from upgrading their device whenever they want, from whomever they want, and as often as they want.

        How many subscribers sit on old hardware waiting for the contract to expire?

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