Worldwide sales of smartphones with larger screens grew 180% in 2014.
According to the latest report from Germany-based GfK, there were 1.2 billion smartphones sold in 2014, up 23% on the year before and surpassing the billion-unit point for the first time. Yet, the analysts project sales to slow down to 14% growth in 2015, which will lead to approximately 1.37 billion devices.
Furthermore, last year saw a tremendous $381.1 billion worth of smartphones sold, up from $330 billion in 2013. Global smartphone sales set a new milestone at the tail-end of 2014 by reaching $115 billion for the Q4, an increase of 20% year-on-year. The number of units sold worldwide had also risen to nearly 346 million, up 19% on Q4 2013. Just about every region experienced YoY growth in smartphones — both in terms of units and value — except for “developed” APAC. Meanwhile, the Latin America smartphone market enjoyed the highest growth with 36 million units sold in Q4 2014, a 43% YoY jump. This region also saw the value of units sold increase by 37% year-on-year to around $10 billion.
Moving ahead, China will remain the largest market in terms of both unit and value sales for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, growth slowed dramatically in the second half of 2014. Analysts revealed that during the fourth quarter smartphone unit sales were flat year-on-year, although the value of units sold increased by 21% YoY to $28 billion, the highest ever quarterly figure. Still, however, there were nearly 400 million smartphones sold in China — almost one-third of the global total.
“The increase in the value of units sold in China, despite the recent plateauing of unit sales, is due to consumers’ rapid adoption of higher priced smartphones with larger screen sizes. This is a trend seen in most markets and GfK global data shows that the 5 to 5.6 inch segment grew by more than 130% year-on-year in the last quarter of 2014 and by nearly 150% in the full year. In 2015, we forecast this segment to become the dominant screen size band, surpassing 4 to 4.5 inch for the first time,” explained Kevin Walsh, Director of Trends and Forecasting at GfK.
While prices may be shrinking, the screens are doing anything but. In fact, global unit sales of smartphones with larger screens (5”+) grew 180% in 2014, with GfK forecasting this to be the largest segment in 2015. The most resilient two regions in 2015 — both forecast to grow by 33% in unit terms — are “emerging” APAC and Middle East/Africa. Both areas still have significant room for growth as consumers migrate from feature phones and existing smartphones to trade up to a bigger screen.
As TechCrunch points out, “It’s a revealing picture of just how strong Android is in certain markets at the moment. As you can see, globally when you exclude North America, at the start of 2014, the majority of mobile sales were still feature phones, accounting for 68% of all sales. By Q4, Android held a 57% of all sales, while feature phones were just at 29%. ‘Other smartphones,’ which are primarily iPhone devices, ended 2014 just as it started: with 14% of sales.”
Unlike other research firms, GfK’s numbers are worth noting given that the company tracks actual sales, not just shipments, of devices from more than 90 markets. Interested in reading more? You can find the entire report here.