The growth of the smartphone market: Why it is beginning to reach saturation point 

Has the smartphone market hit a wall in terms of growth and innovation?

In 2015, research firm Gfk reported that year-on-year growth in the smartphone market would decline as the market reached saturation point. This temporary decline in growth was anticipated as the technology behind smartphones continues to stagnate, meaning that new mobile releases lack any noticeable upgrades or key differential features.

Interestingly, the bottom line decline in growth was even more pronounced than initially predicted, with a drop of 7 per cent being reported as total revenues increased by just 1 per cent to $399.2 billion. GfK reported that 1.3 billion smartphones were sold around the world in 2015, and while this generated a sizeable turnover it below even conservative expectations for the market as a whole. GfK had predicted that growth would fall by a minimal amount of 14 per cent, but this was more than double the final rate recorded.

So despite a record financial quarter in terms of sales volumes and revenues, the smartphone market has clearly hit a wall in terms of growth and innovation. This is no surprise, even when you account for the huge range of handsets and branded smartphones that are available in the current marketplace. Many of the mobile upgrades that we see during the course of the year are nominal at best, while the range of available features has scarcely improved or diversified over the course of the last year or so.

Even the rise of online gaming has not been able drive higher levels of growth in the smartphone market.

This is in contrast with the tablet market, which has far greater novelty appeal (particularly for gamers) while these devices feature a wide array of more specific features. This market has yet to peak or reach its zenith, meaning that it may well make up ground on smartphones over the course of the next five years.

See also: Brits spend 120 hours a year on their smartphone at work

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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