Anybody keeping an eye on the smartphone industry can tell you with some measure of confidence that emerging markets are the place to look for growth these days; most of the bigger markets are nearing saturation, and as handsets get better and better, people are keeping them longer and longer, which translates to fewer sales. In essence, the market is plateauing, and it’s happening fast. Even on the world stage, with most emerging markets not properly penetrated yet and a good few of them eating up budget handsets, Recent political upsets like Brexit and the controversial US presidential election aren’t helping much. In fact, worldwide smartphone sale growth was only at 1% for the past quarter, going up to 340 million units. Those numbers aren’t anemic by any means, but they reflect very little market growth. According to analytics firm Strategy Analytics, however, the market may see a rebound soon.
Samsung was the world’s top dog in smartphone shipments for the quarter, sweeping up 23% of the market. While Oppo saw an impressive 137% growth, they were unable to find their way anywhere near the top of the overall shipment charts. According to some at Strategy Analytics however, there are signs that the market may have hit rock bottom and will only go up from here. One of those signs is the fact that both Samsung and Apple have flagship devices, the Galaxy Note 7 and iPhone 7, coming within the next few months, which could cause a massive upswing in Q3 and Q4 of the year that could last well into 2017.
Huawei could also play a part, having recently asserted themselves as the third biggest smartphone OEM out there and essentially stopped Samsung’s growth streak cold. Huawei’s own growth, on the other hand, has ground to a screeching halt, making their possible involvement in a market coup questionable at this point, given their relative lack of brand power in key markets like the US and India. With Apple having fallen 15 percent year on year for the quarter and Samsung having grown significantly, seemingly at Apple’s expense, the opportunity for Huawei to cause an upset is there, but they’re likely to be overshadowed by two upcoming flagships from Apple and Samsung, which will no doubt cause huge surges in the US and Asian markets, though projections for other markets are a bit hazy at this point. With this year’s smartphone shipments essentially representing a baseline of new smartphone owners and needed replacements for very old or broken devices, it will be interesting to see if the market does indeed experience overall growth when new flagships drop that just may be compelling enough to convince the millions of holdouts to let go of their 2014 and 2015 flagships.