NEW DELHI: Apple said at the beginning of the year that it will see lower sales than earlier expected due to slowing iPhone sales and challenges in China. But it is not the only big player facing pressure as the worldwide market for smartphones sees a sudden slump after years of high growth. Amid the bleak outlook, India though shone as a bright spot, reporting growing sales. But the smartphone market as a whole is waiting for the rollout of 5G to again spur sales.

A FORGETTABLE 2018

Globally, smartphone shipments fell by 4.1% to 1.4 billion units in 2018, which made it the worst year ever in terms of shipment growth. Sales suffered a fifth straight quarter of negative growth as global smartphone shipments were reported at 375.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2018.

HIGH PENETRATION, SLOW INNOVATION TO BLAME

Smartphone penetration has touched saturation levels across countries while real innovation lags in the new models, prompting buyers to question the need for replacing their old phones. Thus, longer replacement cycles and annoyance with rising prices have led to declining sales with the slide forecast to last into 2019.

CHINA SHRINKS, INDIA STILL GROWING

China accounts for about 30% of global smartphone sales, but volumes in 2018 were down by slightly over 10%. High inventory and declining consumer spending are key factors even though the four top brands in the country — all of them Chinese (Huawei, OPPO, vivo, Xiaomi) — saw their share of Chinese market climb to 78% from 66% in 2017.

India, along with the likes of Indonesia, Korea, and , was one of a few markets that actually saw growth in smartphone sale volumes. India now accounts for 10% of total global smartphone market share, up from 6% five years ago .

AWAITING 5G BOOST

All eyes are now on 5G and hi-fi tech such as foldable screens and 3D cameras to inject fresh buzz into the market. Makers hope that data speeds more than 10 times faster than what is available at present will offer a whole new world of experience to consumers and reignite smartphone sales.

Source: IDC, Canalys Smartphone Analysis, Statista

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