IDC downgrades smartphone forecast for 2016, sees further decline in tablets sales

Latest forecasts from IDC paint an increasingly gloomy picture for small- and large-screen mobile devices after the research company revised downwards its smartphone growth forecast for 2016 and predicted a second year of decline for tablets.

IDC now expects smartphone shipments to increase by just 3.1 per cent this year, which is 2.6 percentage points below its previous forecast. The company lowered its forecast based on the continued slowdown in mature markets and China. Shipments are expected to reach 1.48 billion in 2016 and then rise to 1.84 billion in 2020.

The 2016 forecast also represents a substantial slowdown from the 10.5 per cent growth in 2015 and 27.8 per cent in 2014.

In terms of the competing operating systems, IDC expects Android-based smartphone shipments to increase by 6 per cent in 2016 to 1.24 billion, then rising to 1.57 billion in 2020. Android is also expected to increase its overall share of all shipments from 81 per cent in 2015 to 84 per cent in 2016 with an average selling price of $218 (€195), which will then drop below $200 in 2019.

The future is less bright for Apple, which is expected to face its first year of decline for iPhone sales in 2016 with shipments dropping from 232 million in 2015 to 227 million in 2016. The expected year-on-year decline of 2 per cent is a significant change from past years' growth and marks a pivotal moment for the company, IDC noted. iOS is expected to account for a 15.3 per cent share of all smartphones this year.

Microsoft, meanwhile, recently sold off the remaining Nokia assets and plans to target the Windows Phone OS at enterprise users.

Looking at the tablet market, IDC said worldwide shipments are expected to decline for the second straight year in 2016, dropping 9.6 per cent compared to 2015 volumes.

The research company commented that the tablet market will also decline in 2017, but is expected to rebound slightly in 2018 and beyond because of demand for tablets with detachable keyboards. Right now the detachable category only accounts for 16 per cent of the market and IDC expects it to reach 31 per cent in 2020.

For more:
- see the IDC smartphone report
- see the IDC tablets report

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