Phablets Lift the Smartphone Market

Large-screen smartphones will help the market sustain its growth for the foreseeable future, predicts IDC.

The smartphone market continues to expand and will continue to do so over the next several years, thanks, in part, to the growing popularity of super-sized devices like Samsung's new Galaxy Note8.

In a forecast from IDC, the technology research firm predicted that vendors will ship over 1.7 billion smartphones in 2021, up from 1.47 billion last year. Notably, 2016 was the first time the market registered a single-digit growth rate (2.5 percent).

Although the years of heady, double-digit growth may be gone, the industry remains on an upward trajectory. IDC expects that a trickle of new smartphone users and two-year replacement cycles to nudge the market into a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.3 percent over five years.

smartphone market

One particular bright spot is the so-called phablet segment made up of devices that fall between compact smartphones and small tablets.

"Premium phablet offerings from a variety of vendors look to be the main driving force behind the growth of devices with screens 5.5 inches and larger, which are set to grow over 34 percent in 2017 across all operating systems," said IDC research manager Anthony Scarsella, in a statement. And those premium, large-screen smartphones are set to fetch some higher prices.

"The average selling price of these devices is also expected to increase 9.0 percent as we await the arrival of ultra-premium devices such as the iPhone 8, Note 8, V30, Essential Phone, and the second-generation Pixel," Scarsella said. Ahead of its mid-September release date, Samsung's Galaxy Note8 can be preordered for a starting price of nearly $930.

"The large screen phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down as phablets will make up 40 percent of the smartphone market by the end of 2017. By 2021, phablets will control slightly over 51% of the market proving that bigger is most often better to most consumers," concluded Scarsella.

Android has cemented itself as the leading mobile operating system. This year, it is expected to run on over 1.27 billion smartphones or 85.2 percent of all the units shipped this year. Apple iOS will be a distant second with 14.6 percent of the market, or 218.7 million units.

Those market share figures will barely budge in 2021. Android will command 85.5 percent of the market that year on shipments of nearly 1.48 billion units. Meanwhile, Apple will shed some market share, claiming 14.4 percent of the market after shipping 249.3 million iPhones.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.




Tags: smartphones, IDC, Mobile Age, phablets


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