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Smartphone Shipments to Rebound After 3-Year Low

Consumer smartphone sales will rebound this year after hitting a three-year low in 2016, according to a new survey from Accenture. Increased shipments will be pushed by device refresh schedules, better security, improved performance and new features, according to the survey.

Based on responses from 26,000 consumers in 26 different countries, the survey found that demand for wearables such as smartwatches and fitness trackers will remain sluggish owing to high prices and concerns about privacy and security around personal data. Artificial intelligence features, such as digital voice assistants, are being embraced by consumers, according to survey responses.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • 54 percent of respondents said they plan to buy a smartphone in the next year, up from 48 percent in the previous year;
  • Chinese consumers are responsible for a big chunk of the projected growth, with 74 percent of those surveyed saying they intend to buy a smartphone in the next year, compared to only 61 percent last year;
  • Interest in new smartphones is also growing significantly in the United States, with respondents here saying they'd buy a new device in the next year at a rate of 52 percent, up 14 percentage points over the previous year's findings;
  • Among all respondents, access to the newest features and functions was the most common reason for buying a new device, at 51 percent, up from just 41 percent in the previous year;
  • Respondents also commonly cited inadequate performance of their current devices, at 45 percent, as reasons they'd buy a new one in the coming year;
  • Only 4 percent of respondents said they'd buy a digital voice-enabled assistant such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, but among respondents who already owned one, 65 percent told researchers they use them on a regular basis;
  • 87 percent of survey respondents said they worry about the security of online transactions, such as buying things online; and
  • In contrast, more than a third, 37 percent, said they trust device manufacturers with their personal data and 36 percent said they trust their telecom provider.

"Improved features and falling prices are key reasons consumers around the world are signaling a desire to buy new smartphones," said David Sovie, global managing director for Accenture's Electronics and High-Tech business, in a prepared statement. "Growing acceptance of services powered by artificial intelligence, such as voice assistants, is also fueling this market upswing. 2017 will be the year when artificial intelligence goes mainstream in consumer devices."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

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