Fast Facts: Uh Oh… Smartphone Sales Are Declining

Contributor: Jason Koestenblatt
Posted: 02/23/2018
Smartphone Sales

In the fast-paced IT industry, new statistics and data are released daily. Each week, Enterprise Mobility Exchange publishes Fast Facts, taking a look at interesting or noteworthy information impacting businesses.

For the first time since being tracked, smartphone sales saw a decline during Q4 of 2017.

Now, before we go all Chicken Little here and wait for the sky to fall, let’s figure out what it really means.

The report released by Gartner this week said global smartphone sales declined 5.6% in Q4 from that same period in 2016, the first year-over-year decline since 2004, when records were kept.

But it’s not about a lack of need, rather, manufacturers may have hit a sweet spot when it comes to making devices that can last just long enough to keep consumers happy.

“Two main factors led to the fall in the fourth quarter of 2017,” said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner in a statement. “First, upgrades from feature phones to smartphones have slowed down due to lack of quality ‘ultra-low-cost’ smartphones and users preferring to buy quality feature phones. Second, replacement smartphone users are choosing quality models and keeping them longer, lengthening the replacement cycle of smartphones.”

While this may not be the brightest moment for smartphone manufacturers, specifically Samsung and Apple, who hold the top two spots in market share, respectively, it’s actually a bit of a reprieve for the IT administrator.

Some 40% of enterprises now consider themselves mobile-first, which means there’s a heavy reliance on BYOD or COPE platforms. With that comes the need for upgrades, and in the BYOD environment, can happen at any given moment depending on an end-users need or want to change devices. The trickle-up effect then hits the IT team’s mobile administrator, who has to re-deploy whichever apps or security protocols specified by company policy.

A decrease in new smartphone consumption could actually also be a decrease in headaches for mobile teams at the enterprise level.

Of course, all of this could be flipped upside down in just a matter of weeks, as Mobile World Congress kicks off Feb. 26 and Samsung is expected to unveil its next flagship device. Find out more here.

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Jason Koestenblatt
Contributor: Jason Koestenblatt