Prepare for year of flat mobile phone sales growth - new Gartner report

But return to growth by 2020.
Phones, Mobile phones, Smartphones, Mobile World Congress, MWC, Sales, Business, Tech, Gartner, Society

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Gartner is predicting the mobile phone market to return to steady growth next year.

Worldwide shipments of devices — PCs, tablets and mobile phones — are on pace to reach 2.21 billion units in 2019, exhibiting flat growth year over year, according to Gartner. The PC market is expected to continue its downward trend, while the mobile phone market is set to return to growth in 2020.

"For the eighth consecutive year, the PC market is at a standstill," said Ranjit Atwal , research director at Gartner. “PC shipments will total 258 million units in 2019, a 0.6% decline from 2018.” Traditional PCs are set to decline 3% in 2019 to total 189 million units.

Gartner analysts predict that Windows 10 will represent 75% of the professional PC market by 2021.

Mobile phone market to contract in 2019, but return to growth in 2020

Shipments of mobile phones are estimated to reach 1.8 billion units in 2019, a decline of 0.5% over year.

“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,” said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.

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

In 2020, the mobile phone market is forecast to return to growth, with a shipments increase of 1.2% from 2019. Additionally, Gartner expects the average high-end phone lifetime to increase from 2.6 years to 2.8 years through 2023.

Growth of foldable phones

A number of vendors unveiled foldable phones at the most recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with many estimated to launch in late 2019.

While Gartner analysts expect foldable phones to potentially re-inject innovation in the smartphone market, they are cautious about their short-term uptake due to trade-offs. Gartner estimates that foldable phones will account for 5% of high-end phones by 2023, amounting to 30 million units.

“We expect that users will use a foldable phone as they do their regular smartphone, picking it up hundreds of times a day, unfolding it sporadically and typing on its plastic screen, which may scratch quickly depending on the way it folds,” said Cozza.

“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 despite we expect to decline with time. Currently priced at US$2,000, foldable phones present too many trade-offs, even for many early technology adopters.”

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