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More than two billion mobile phones to ship in 2015

The much-noted Chinese slowdown is having a minimal effect on mobile device shipments, says CCS Insight

“Explosive” 4G adoption around the world is propelling shipments of mobile devices – smartphones in particular – to record highs in 2015, a worldwide forecast from CCS Insight has revealed.

According to CCS’s latest stats, the market is expected to reach 2.25 billion unit sales in 2019, with smartphones accounting for two billion units. This year, shipments will top the two billion unit mark, with 1.45 billion smartphones sold.

This is in contrast to the most recent stats from number-crunching powerhouse Gartner, which said 1.9 billion mobile phones would ship in 2015.

CCS’s forecast – Mobile phone forecast, worldwide, 2015-2019 – was in fact slightly lower than its previous estimates due to softening demand in China, the world’s largest mobile phone market. Growth has stalled there partly because most people now have smartphones, said CCS Insight smart devices analyst Jasdeep Badyal.

“Future sales are now dependent on replacement purchases, as is the case in other mature markets around the world,” he said.

4G networks beginning to dominate

CCS also noted a huge rise in 4G adoption, with around 770 million 4G handsets to be sold in 2015, three-quarters as many as in 2014, with China accounting for a third of the total volume.

“Despite the overall decline in Chinese sales, the country's mobile network operators have built up their 4G networks in record time. The result is that two out of every three phones sold in China in 2015 will support 4G,” said Badyal.

Apple instalment plans hit the right note

Despite most of the big increases in sales fuelled by more inexpensive Android smartphones in emerging markets where most people cannot afford Apple iPhones, CCS predicted that Apple’s recent launch of installment payment options – pitched at people who want to own a new iPhone every 12 months – would turn out to be an astute move.

“Apple is banking on its instalment plans stimulating early and predictable replacement sales among the most loyal US iPhone owners, and we predict it will take a similar approach in other key markets. This will help Apple maintain its current global market share for at least the next two years,” said Badyal.

In common with most other market-watchers, CCS said beyond the high-end Apple ecosystem, competitive pressures were mounting on other brands, with Chinese manufacturers predictably adding to the woes of more established brands such as Samsung. Indeed, between them, Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi accounted for 21% of all Android handsets shipped between January and June 2015.

The success of the emergent Chinese suppliers will continue, Badyal predicted, as they seek more opportunities outside their home country in response to the saturated market. As previously reported in Computer Weekly, India will be the next big market.

Game over for Windows?

Other operating systems will continue to struggle over the forecast period, with Windows struggling for relevance, and the only glimmer of hope for Redmond lying with enterprise buyers, who will help Microsoft retain a paltry market share of just 4% by 2017.

CCS said that as Microsoft unites its PC and phone platforms under the Windows 10 marque, it will “take cold comfort from such a meagre slice of the pie”.

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