KEY POINTS

  • The global smartphone market is expected to slow considerably over the next few years. 2015 was likely the last year of double-digit growth for smartphone shipments. We estimate shipments will grow only 9% to 1.6 billion smartphones this year, slightly slower than 12% growth in 2015.
  • The global smartphone market closed out the year with an impressive holiday quarter that included record shipment levels. We estimate that global smartphone shipments grew 7% year-over-year (YoY) to 402 million at the end of Q4 2015. YoY growth slowed considerably during the quarter, down from 34% during the same period last year. 
  • Mature markets were at the heart of this year's deceleration. Smartphones account for upward of 50% of mobile phone ownership in the US, Europe, and China. The pool of first-time smartphone buyers in these countries is shrinking rapidly, and sales are primarily coming from those upgrading their phones.
  • Emerging markets will continue to see robust shipment growth. India and Indonesia, in particular, will help fuel a large share of the shipments growth within the global smartphone market over the next few years. The availability of more affordable handsets has encouraged consumers to upgrade their feature phones to smartphones at a faster rate than in previous years. Gains in these countries, though, still aren’t offsetting declining growth in top markets.
  • The global platform wars are over. Apple and Android continue to dominate the market despite efforts by Microsoft, BlackBerry, and other third-party platforms to win share. Apple’s launch of the iPhone 6s series helped Apple regain share from Android during Q4, growing three basis points. Nevertheless, Android held on to the vast majority of platform share at the end of the year and is expected to continue to dominate the market for the foreseeable future.
  • On the vendor side, Apple’s strong Q4 was not enough to keep it from losing market share in 2015. Apple sold 74.8 million iPhones in Q4 2015, up just 1% YoY, from 74.4 million. This was the iPhone’s lowest growth rate ever, but its highest sales quarter to date. Meanwhile, Chinese vendors, including Huawei, and Korean giant Samsung gained share at the expense of HTC, Sony, and Lenovo.

This is the first of our two Q1 reports on the smartphone market. In this report, we take a global look at smartphone shipments by [...]