Number to hit 1.2 million in 2018, with growth driven by a fall in device pricing and operators removing premiums for using the faster services before the end of the year
Sales of 4G phones are set to double this year and rise to 1.2 billion in 2018, accounting for over half of the 2.4 billion phones sold in that year.
This is according to the annual mobile phone forecast by telecoms analyst CCS Insight, which expects a key driver to be the cost of 4G phones falling below €100 in the second half of this year, with most operators removing any premium for using the services.
Globally, CCS Insight is predicting unit sales will grow from 1.95 billion in 2014 to 2.29 billion in 2018. Smartphone sales will make up 64 per cent of sales this year and 82 per cent in four years time.
From this, the proportion of 4G-enabled sales will almost double from 26 per cent to 51 per cent, with 56 per cent of phones sold in Western-Europe this year being 4G-enabled.
Across the board, the analyst also expects the average selling price (ASP) of mobiles to fall this year from $168 this year (£100) to $154 (£92) in 2018.
The analyst added that the Chinese market will be one of the major drivers for 4G growth. It added licences to operate these networks were only granted to operators in December, yet pre-orders for new handsets by operators indicate that 38 per cent of mobiles sold in China this year will support 4G technology.
CCS Insight also predicts that most of Apple’s growth will come from China and emerging markets rather than developed markets, where it said it already has significant market share.
The forecast predicts that Android’s, which accounted for 79 per cent of the one billion smartphones sold last year, will see its dominance continue. Despite doubts over the commitment from manufacturers to Windows Phone, it said its ability to compete at lower price points and taking advantage of BlackBerry’s recent decline will enable it to benefit.
CCS director of forecasting Marina Koytcheva said: “As Google solidified its partnership with Samsung and distanced itself from mobile phone manufacturing by selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo, the forces threatening Android from within have been neutralised.
“Abolishing the licence fee for Windows devices with screens under nine inches and updating the software to work on lower-cost hardware will enable Microsoft to compete at new low price points, down to $120.
“We continue to question the depth of phone manufacturers’ commitment to Windows Phone compared with Android, but the significance of removing the licence fee can’t be ignored. BlackBerry’s decline into a niche is also opening up a promising opportunity in the business segment and early signs suggest that Windows Phone is benefiting from this.”