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UK Insights

What next for the smartphone?

Carolina Milanesi

Former Chief of Research at ComTech

Mobile 23.02.2016 / 15:00


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Now double-digit smartphone market growth is over

Mobile penetration in Europe and the US has reached 91%, and in urban China the number has risen to 97%. Nearly everyone now has a mobile phone, and in Britain 74% of people have a smartphone. With this kind of market penetration, some in the industry are wondering where future sales will come from.

A new report by Kantar Worldpanel into what the smartphone market can expect in 2016 suggests that sales will be largely based on:

  • Convincing die-hard feature phone users that they need a smartphone
  • Persuading smartphone owners that they want and need the 'next big thing'

Changes in smartphone OS market share, along with sales for the two top smartphone brands (Apple and Samsung), will come mainly from convincing users to switch from the competition.

Many feature phone owners simply do not want a smartphone. Price is the biggest hurdle in getting feature phone users to upgrade to a smartphone. Feature phone owners tend to be older, are more likely to be retired, and often have a limited income. They are unlikely to upgrade to a smartphone until they can no longer rely on their current device. In Great Britain, 52% of feature phone owners are over the age of 55, 47% have an income of under £30,000, and 27% are retired.

While looking year over year might not be enough to see a clear trend, examining the past three years makes it clear that smartphone life cycles are getting longer.

59.6% of smartphone owners in Great Britain are currently planning to upgrade their smartphone over the next 12 months.



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For the foreseeable future, the smartphone will remain the device around which millions of people organize their lives. With market saturation, there are no longer hundreds of millions shopping for a first smartphone, but there are hundreds of millions who will carry smartphones everywhere they go. The smartphone market will never again see the growth of the past ten years. But, the opportunities to make money from what has already been built are there, for those with the vision to find and seize them.

Source : Kantar Worldpanel


Editor's Notes

The data used in this report is based on Kantar Worldpanel ComTech longitudinal monthly surveys conducted in the US, Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and China. Our surveys are conducted online, and the consumers in our panels are no younger than age 13 or 16, depending on the country. The size of the panels is between 10,000 and 22,000 consumers, depending on the country.

Download the Kantar Worldpanel ComTech white paper: 'Double-Digit Smartphone Market Growth is over; Deal with it!' by clicking the link above. To interview Carolina, or for more information, please contact us.

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