A report from IDC claims smartphones shipments are expected to experience positive growth through 2021. Recently smartphone growth has slowed significantly, with shipments growing just 2.5 percent in 2016 over the previous year. Despite this, IDC expects growth in the market to remain steady over the course of the next five years, with an expected average growth rate of 3.3 percent per year through 2021.
The International Data Corporation expects demand from new users and the typical 2-year upgrade cycle to be the main driving forces behind this growth, which should see shipments reach 1.7 billion by 2021, versus the 1.47 billion seen in 2016. Nonetheless, with many markets starting to become saturated, companies should eventually prepare for the first decline in the market, which could mean a slow decline in the popularity of smartphones and a gradual move towards a different consumer market. With roughly half of the world's population using smartphones in 2016, though, there are still many markets that are yet to be fully taken advantage of, hence the 5-year growth projection. In terms of individual operating systems, the situation remains pretty unchanged, with Android dominating at over 85 percent of all shipments, while iOS holds just under 15% of the market. On another positive note for the Google-owned OS, the operating system is also expected to outperform this year's market growth with a 2.3 percent increase year-on-year, versus the 1.7 percent market growth expected.
In terms of Apple, the company's operating system is expected to see an increase of 1.5 percent in 2017, though this is set to improve significantly in 2018, with shipments said to grow 9.1 percent year-on-year, mainly due to the popularity of the upcoming iPhone 7s and 7s Plus. Interestingly, the average selling price of high-end smartphones is also expected to increase, thanks largely to Apple's upcoming iPhone lineup, as well as the Galaxy Note 8 and LG's V30. The popularity of large-screen devices has grown significantly, with the segment expected to experience a 34 percent growth rate this year and, by 2021, large-screened devices are set to make up 51 percent of all smartphone shipments. Premium offerings appear to be the main driving force behind this, with a number of Chinese manufacturers releasing large-screened devices in order to compete with Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 devices.