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Smartphone Sales in Decline, but 5G-Powered Rebound Expected for 2020

closeup of person texting on mobile phone

In 2019, smartphone sales worldwide will dip 2.5 percent over last year, according to a forecast from research firm Gartner, with the largest declines expected in Japan (-6.5 percent), Western Europe (-5.3 percent) and North America (-4.4 percent).

One reason behind the decline, Gartner suggested, is that new smartphones aren't inspiring people to upgrade. "In mature markets, the high-end smartphone market is particularly oversupplied and commoditized, with higher average selling prices and no compelling new utility or experiences for users to upgrade to," said Roberta Cozza, senior research director at Gartner, in a statement.

"Lengthening smartphone replacement cycles and a ban on Huawei accessing technology from U.S.-based suppliers weakened demand for smartphones in the first half of 2019," added Annette Zimmermann, research vice president at Gartner. "We expect demand to get even weaker in the second half as replacement of high-, low- and mid-end smartphones continues to slow, due to low value benefits."

But in 2020, as 5G models and service packages become more broadly available, smartphone sales are projected to grow again. "Analysts also expect the first 5G Apple iPhone to launch in 2020, which should entice iPhone users to upgrade," Gartner noted.

The full report, "Forecast: Mobile Phones, Worldwide, 2017-2023, 2Q19 Update," is available to Gartner clients here.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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