The global smartphone market will continue declining over the course of this year in terms of shipments — and most likely sales — until 2019 when the negative trend is expected to be reversed, according to a new report authored by the International Data Corporation. The mobile industry's overall prospects remain positive in the medium term, with IDC predicting a compound annual growth rate of 2.4-percent over a five-year period ending in 2025. Shipments of Android devices are projected to shrink 0.5-percent in 2018, whereas their iOS counterparts are likely to grow by 2.5 percentage points.
China is believed to be the biggest driver of the recently observed decline that's set to continue this year, though the Far Eastern country should see its shipments remain flat in 2019. The Asia/Pacific region, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East are expected to generate new growth avenues for the global mobile industry beyond next year as an increasing number of consumers starts embracing smartphones, uninhibited by previous economic challenges, the new report reads. 5G will also play a role in the resurgence of handset growth over the next half a decade, with the next generation of wireless connectivity being likely to serve as a key selling point of flagships before trickling down into the mid-range and entry-level segments. IDC predicted the world's first 5G-enabled smartphones will become available for purchase in the second half of 2019, with that forecast being extremely conservative given the promises previously made by mobile service providers and OEMs in many parts of the world.
5G is still likely to remain a niche feature until at least 2020 when IDC believes seven-percent of global shipments will amount to 5G-ready handsets, expecting 212 million of such products to be delivered to retailers in total. Come 2022, almost every fifth shipped device will have 5G capabilities, as per the same report. Huawei previously said it's targeting Q3 2019 for the release of its first 5G-ready mobile offering, whereas a "leading Korean manufacturer" is expected to launch such a product in the first half of the next year.