Global smartphone sales top $96bn to set new Q1 record


This was an increase of eight per cent from a year ago, while unit sales were up seven per cent to 309.7 million  

Global smartphone sales exceeded $96 billion in the first three months of this year – a new record for Q1. This is according to the latest figures from market forecasters GfK.

As a result, unit sales increased by seven per cent year-on-year to 309.7 million, but this was down from growth of 19 per cent annually in Q4 2014. GfK said the slowdown was caused by a decline in the demand for smartphones in China and Developed Asia, down 14 per cent and five per cent respectively.

Western Europe drop 

Smartphone sales value in Western Europe fell for the first time in Q1, down a percentage point to $12.4 billion. The forecaster said this was dragged down by Spain and France, and as smartphone penetration nears saturation point, both countries are expected to see a slowdown in smartphone unit growth this year compared to last.

Central and Eastern Europe saw a bigger decline, with sales down 13 per cent year-on-year to $3.4 billion. GfK said the macroeconomic situation in Russia had impacted sales and as a result, is forecasting that smartphone demand in the region this year will grow more slowly than Western Europe for the first time since 2010.

The 4G ramp-up

In the quarter, 4G unit share surpassed 50 per cent of global smartphone demand for the first time. China saw the greatest 4G share increase in the three month period – up 16 percentage points to 73 per cent, from 57 per cent last quarter.

GfK said growth has been buoyed by the continued price erosion of 4G smartphones and is forecasting global 4G share to increase further this year, reaching 59 per cent in Q4.

The rise of the supersize smartphone

It was also a quarter that saw a continued shift towards larger screen sizes of five inches and above, where sales of 166 million units equated to 47 per cent of the global smartphone market, up from 32 per cent in Q1 2014.

The forecaster is predicting this screen size migration will continue in 2015, with global demand for large screen devices increasing by 30 per cent year-on-year to account for 69 per cent of total smartphone demand.

2014 sales v 2015 forecast

GfK is expecting global smartphone sales to grow six per cent this year to $403.6 billion, while unit sale are forecasted to grow by 10 per cent to 1.355 billion.

GfK director of trends and forecasting Kevin Walsh concluded: “GfK forecasts global smartphone unit demand to grow +10 per cent year-on-year in 2015, a slowdown from the +23 per cent growth experienced last year. Emerging Asia is forecast to be the fastest growing region, driven by India and Indonesia, where low smartphone penetration leaves plenty of room for growth.”