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Gartner Shows Global Smartphone Growth Down

February 18, 2016 - Written By Daniel Fuller

According to new data from research firm Gartner, the mobile space worldwide, with most exceptions being in emerging markets, is starting to reach saturation. Essentially, this means that most of the people who are going to have smartphones already have them. The research paper, drafted by a team of 18 researchers, shows a meager .9 percent increase in total mobile sales the world over on a year-by-year basis, as of the end of the 2015 fiscal year.  Global smartphone shipments in total for the fourth quarter of 2015 were down by over 200 million compared to the fourth quarter of 2014. These levels of growth are close to the current record low for mobile growth in a fiscal year period, with the record holder being the 2008 fiscal year.

The figures look fairly dismal compared to last year, considering the untapped markets scattered around the globe. Emerging markets such as India and Africa are just starting to become the last frontiers of the mobile explosion that Apple started and Android is determined to finish. Apple, one of the top dogs in the mobile world, even posted a 4.4 percent market share loss in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014. Meanwhile, Windows-based handsets from all OEMs saw a harsh drop, hitting a barrel-scraping 1.1 percent of the global market. Meanwhile, Android managed to nab 80.7 percent of the global market, up just under 4 percent year on year. Samsung managed to defend its crown as top dog with 22.5 percent of the total mobile market.

Despite emerging markets becoming huge players in mobile growth, a big part of the growing that was done for the year was actually going on in China. One OEM in particular from the far east really made an impression on the market this year, being Huawei. Insane growth, which analysts are saying was powered by better visibility worldwide, has placed Huawei at the number 3 spot for worldwide smartphone vendors. This is thanks, in no small part, to their participation in the Nexus program yielding the excellent Nexus 6P, as well as their own P and Mate lineups making it into the spotlight thanks to unquestionable quality. Despite all this good news, the fact is, according to this data, that the market is reaching saturation. This means that OEMs will have to begin thinking of ways to nab profit besides smartphone sales. Many have entered the VR, A.I. and drone spaces to compensate, but only time will tell how things will look once emerging markets are satiated and the smoke clears.