How global smartphone sales growth ground to a halt

“After years of rampant growth, the global smartphone market is slowing down as consumers wait for the next game-changing feature,” Robert Fenner reports for Bloomberg. “That is bad news for the giants of the technology industry, including Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., as well as the crop of Chinese challengers that includes Xiaomi Corp., Oppo, Vivo and Huawei Technologies Co. ”

“While Apple Inc. didn’t invent the smartphone, it certainly sparked the modern era of web-connected devices with the very first iPhone in 2007. The next year, the first device powered by Android made its debut and the era of rapid growth was ushered in,” Fenner reports. “The number of smartphones shipped in 2013 surged 40 percent from the year before, according to IDC data. In 2014, annual growth slowed to 28 percent. Last year showed the first contraction on record, with the market shrinking by 2.5 percent, in large part because of reduced shipments in China.”

MacDailyNews Note: Here’s what Google’s Android looked like before and after Apple’s iPhone:

Google Android before and after Apple iPhone

And, here’s what cellphones looked like before and after Apple’s iPhone:

cellphones before and after Apple iPhone

“After years of breakneck growth, most Chinese have a smartphone now, which means there isn’t a vast pool of untapped demand.,” Fenner reports. “Same in western countries, where smartphones have reached saturation levels. While there are still a core of users who will line up every September for the newest iPhone, many more are happy to stick with their handset until it stops working.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As Fenner notes, the rollout of 5G will spur the next wave of demand, but do not discount this year’s crop of iPhones as they will all reportedly eschew the antiquated Home button, moving to iPhone X’s superior gesture-based modes of iOS operation, and usher in a wave of upgrades for Apple in the process.

South Korean dishwasher maker Samsung’s mobile profits fall as consumers pass on $1,000 iPhone knockoffs – July 31, 2018
Apple’s iPhone X made 5 times the profit of 600 Android OEMs combined – April 18, 2018
Apple’s iPhone captured 86% of global handset profits in Q417; iPhone X alone took 35% of global handset profits – April 17, 2018
What phones looked like before and after Apple’s revolutionary iPhone transformed the industry – February 8, 2012


  1. at MDN take, the face ID is great, however there is nothing wring with the home button. This home button that you malign all the time has been with the iPhone from day one and has done sterling service, and will continue to do so. Nothing wrong with the home button.

  2. Some of the key reasons I am happy with my iPhone 6 Plus / Not Upgrading are:

    1) Does everything I need. Email, Web Browser, Phone. No major slowdowns.
    2) Apple not only recently replaced the battery but gave me a whole new iPhone 6 Plus for 30 dollars. (They botched the battery replacement and gave me a new iPhone 6 Plus)
    3) Physical Headphone 🎧 port. (Apple will drag me into the future kicking and screaming).
    4) Physical home button and finger print reader (See 3).
    5) Lack of compelling new features. Agree with MDN that 5G will be a very good selling point. Most of Apple’s new features are very nice (not looking at you emojis) but not compelling for me.
    6) Cost. We are in the process of buying a new home. A new iPhone right now for us would be a luxury rather than a necessity.

    My wife on the other hand would like to get a newer iPhone model. She feels basically the same as I do for the items listed above but adopts to new paradigms much easier than I do.) A compromise for us maybe is to wait until the new crop of iPhones are released and then see if we could get 2 new iPhone 8s.

    (Watch when the new iPhones are announced there will be some feature my wife and I have to have!) 😀

    1. Cool! My brother has bad luck, they were replacing the battery on a 6, and when they put the screen back on, they said the case was bent!?! This is after they checked it, removed the screen, put in the battery, THEN, they said the case was bent. Hmmm….

      The LA Grove Apple Store is the worst. I’ve been there, and customer service was the worst I’ve ever gotten at an Apple Store. They are always trying to get you to pay them for something. Now, they damaged my brother’s 6, while installing the battery and they blame him!

      My brother was ready to blow a gasket, but I talked him down. They wouldn’t let him talk to a manager, and the tech wouldn’t give him his name! How ridiculous. I told my brother just to eat the loss, since it was my old iPhone that I had handed down to my nephew. It was perfect, but now, it’s probably been used for parts. I tell him not to go to the Grove, but it’s right next to his workplace. If I were Apple, I’d shut down that store. It’s an embarrassment. How do they not take responsibility for their damage?!?

  3. Consumers are not waiting for the next feature. Most iPhone owners don’t use but a small fraction of the features they already have.

    The first world has been saturated with smart phones. To continue selling more units every year, Apple may have to successfully market new lower priced phones to emerging countries instead of attempting to sell them 3-4 year old designs.

    It is not likely that Apple will be setting any sales records if they focus only on attempting to convince existing iPhone owners to replace their phones. Ugly notches and Face ID was Apple’s attempt to do that, with MDN hyping a supercycle, and they seem to have attracted the bleeding edge guinea pigs. Will that wave last? I doubt it. After the initial surge, iPhone X sales have tapered off. The vast majority of iPhone 6-8 owners see no value in replacing an adequate iPhone model for has no additional useful functions, but costs $300 more. And there is a vocal group that simply wants a small screen iPhone.

    Maybe Apple should back up and restore the headphone jack and design a more useful phone with a real file system, reliable iTunes phone management, SD card expansion, or an ergonomic hand design with a curved back and 30% more battery volume. Then Apple would get switchers back from the competition which doesn’t appreciate being herded into piss poor design decisions that Apple has been pushing lately.

    1. Agree, Mike.

      In addition to “The first world has been saturated with smart phones.”, it could even be argued that many people are perfectly happy with the iPhones that they currently have and don’t even see a compelling reason to ‘upgrade’ yet.

      Overall, a pretty compelling point.

    2. “Apple may have to successfully market new lower priced phones to emerging countries”

      They’re doing a huge business selling to Android switchers. So, as long as Android is selling the lion’s share of phones, Apple has a ready market of folks who know what a smartphone is about now, they just want a better one.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.