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Smartphone market to be flat in 2019, says Gartner

Paul Lipscombe
April 23, 2019

Foldable smartphones to make up five per cent of total market by 2023 says Gartner 

The global smartphone market is set to be flat this year as consumers in mature markets are no longer interested in minor upgrades, predicts Gartner.

The number of smartphone shipments will reach 1.802 billion units this year, a slight 0.5 per cent decline year-on-year, according to Q1 figures by the research firm released on April 8.

However, Gartner does expect the market to grow again slightly to 1.824 billion units next year.

Gartner research director Roberta Cozza says a lack of innovative features has lead to people not upgrading as often.

“Users have reached a threshold for new technology and applications, which means that unless new models provide significant new utility, efficiency or experiences, users don’t want or need to upgrade,” she says.

“As a result, we expect the high- end mobile phone market to show a decline in mature markets during 2019.”

Gartner therefore forecasts that the average smartphone lifespan will increase from 2.6 years to 2.8 years by 2023.

The firm also expects foldable devices to get off to a slow start despite introducing some new innovations. Gartner anticipates they will make up five per cent of the smartphone market by 2023, equivalent to 30 million units.

Cozza said: “Through the next five years, we expect foldable phones to remain a niche product due to several manufacturing challenges. In addition to the surface of the screen, the price is a barrier.

“Currently priced at $2,000, foldable phones present too many trade-offs, even for many early technology adopters.”

She adds, however, that Gartner expects a price decline in devices over time.

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