According to GFK, a Germany-based market and consumer information research company (source link below), global sales of smartphones in 2014 rose by 23% which is over 1.228 billion global smartphones sold over the same time period in 2013 which saw 998.1 million units sold globally. China sold the largest amount of new phones, coming in at around 392.8 million units sold for the year. North America saw 177.6 million units sold while 69.8 million units and 128 million units were sold in Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe respectively. The largest growth appeared in Latin America, which saw 109.5 million units sold in 2014. That is an increase of 59%. Latin America has seen major manufacturers such as Huawei who recently struck a deal to sponsor the football team Club America in an effort to get their branding in front of the large and lucrative market.
GFK notes that sales of smartphones which had larger screens, that is screens that are five or more inches, was one reason global sales were so high. Larger smartphones grew 150% for 2014 and GFK analysts predict that this will be the largest segment in the 2015 year and will overtake sales of screens in the 4 to 4.5 inch size band for the first time. They also noted that emerging markets where smartphone use is not as pervasive with be a huge factor driving sales for 2015. These markets will see sales that are expected in the $100 price range allowing more consumers in these fledgling economies to take on smartphone ownership. These will most likely come via Android smartphones which should give the Android OS more penetration globally.
But GFK Director of Trends and Forecasting, Kevin Walsh, says that smartphone growth will only be around 14% for 2015 as compared to 23% in 2014. He noted that developed markets have reached their saturation point, and thus 2015 will see a slowdown in the developed markets. These numbers are significant because GFK bases it's tracking of estimates and figures by market modeling and consumer research, which they use to "forecast end demand of consumer purchases rather than manufacturer shipments." This, according to them, gives them more accurate results and insights. GFK produces data quarterly with the next report due in May of 2015. It will be interesting to see how announcements from Mobile Word Congress in Barcelona, Spain will affect sales globally. There is a bunch of new Android smartphones poised to hit the market in various price ranges which will no doubt fuel sales and spur further growth. As more and more people become connected around the world, we can expect to see smartphone sales continue to climb, albeit at slower rates for 2015.