This might come as a shock to some: the mobile phone market is booming, after all. But almost every expert in mobile phone manufacturing and the smartphone market believes that fewer phones are going to be sold this year.
This is for many reasons, but the main one being that mobile phones are lasting longer and are more expensive, meaning people have less need to buy a new phone and don’t want to shell out the money to get the latest piece of tech.
In this article, we go into depth and explore why mobile phone sales are down, and what the big players in the industry are hoping to do about it. Read on to peek behind the curtain of the occasionally-secretive mobile phone industry and learn more about what is going on in the world of smartphones!
Why Mobile Phone Sales Are Down in 2019
Smartphone sales were down for the first time ever in 2018. Gartner, the giant research firm, found that in Q4 2017 sales fell 5.6% globally compared to the same time in 2016. The central cause of this, Gartner explained, was the “extension of the replacement cycle”. Or, in layman’s terms, people were waiting longer to replace their mobile phones, using their existing devices instead of replacing them.
The biggest players in the American phone trade-in market, Verizon and AT&T, confirmed their findings. Data showed that, for 2017, U.S. consumers owned a smartphone device on average for 945 days before trading it in, compared to 867 days in 2016. This is a decrease of almost 10% and has only grown larger in 2019. Users are holding on to their mobile phones for longer. That bites into the profit margins of big mobile phone manufacturers harder.
Mobile phone sales are also down as people are less and less willing to spend massive amounts of money on mobile phones. The iPhone X was well known to have underperformed when released and its sales figures, particularly in China, were poor. The largest companies in the smartphone world, including Xiaomi, Huawei, and Samsung, all specialise in selling budget-friendly smartphones for consumers who do not want to pay close to a thousand pounds for phones like the iPhone X. As a result, less money is made per mobile phone sold today than in previous years.
Most analysts put that down to a lack of exciting innovation in the last few years of mobile phone development. When the iPhone was first released, it was a revolutionary smartphone on the market. Even before that, the Blackberry revolutionised the mobile work phone market with its email capability and miniature keyboard. Later on, Android and 4G led to more novelty, but the last few years have mostly been improvements on existing technology. As such, people have not been as enthused about new mobile phones as before, and we’ve been happier to stick with what we’ve currently got rather than buy the latest new thing.
How Can the Smartphone Market Recover?
The biggest smartphone companies have big plans to overcome this market slump. Plan A for many companies is to shake up the market with a remarkable new innovation: the foldable smartphone. Finally out of development after years of testing, the foldable smartphone is being released by many companies. The main issue with this plan, however, is that the phones are still costly. Huawei’s Mate X smartphone costs almost two thousand pounds, for example, which dwarfs the price of its competition. Once the technology is established and the price of the phone falls, we might see this strategy take off. However, this is a longer-term bet by the industry at the moment.
The other plan for businesses is to expand into new markets and sell more mobile phones around the world. Xiaomi and Huawei are both big Chinese firms hoping to continue to grow their business into India. A market of more than a billion potential smartphone users exists there, after all, many with budgets too tight to purchase the ultra-high-end products offered by Apple. The iPhone manufacturer itself, by contrast, is seeking to expand into China: negotiations with the Chinese government to lift the current iPhone ban in the country (the result of an ongoing dispute between themselves and Qualcomm). If successful, Apple will be able to sell its latest iPhone products in the enormous Chinese market much more easily.
Both plans for expansion and plans for innovation would shake up the industry massively. However, for the time being, most consumers are sticking with their current mobile phones and trying to make them last for as long as they can. If that sounds like you, why not protect your mobile phone with one of our anti-glare screens? Our mobile phone screen protectors offer a high-quality layer of defence against scratches and screen damage, and we have protectors designed for almost every mobile phone on the market. Take a look at our online store today and browse our fantastic selection!