Low-Cost Phones Lead Charge as Smartphone Shipments Rise 19 Percent
The latest Juniper Research numbers show global smartphone shipments in 2014 will total 1.2 billion, compared with 985 million in 2013. Inexpensive phones in developing markets are driving the growth.Inexpensive smartphones being sold around the world in developing nations are apparently helping to push smartphone shipment growth to 1.2 billion devices, up an estimated 19 percent in 2014 over 2013, when 985 million smartphones shipped, according to the latest figures from Juniper Research. The new estimates were released Sept. 16 in a research report, Smartphone Markets: Trends, Shares & Forecasts 2014-2019, by analyst Nitin Bhas. "The market is expected to be driven by growth in emerging markets, due to a continued surge in sales and adoption of low-cost Economy ($75-$150) and Ultra-Economy (sub-$75) smartphones," he wrote. Such emerging markets "are now vital to success in this sector, with the gap between the growing emerging markets and the stagnating mature markets closing." One reason for the new growth in the lower end of the market is that the upper end, filled with premium phones like iPhones and others at premium prices, is becoming saturated by users who have the devices they want and need, said Bhas in an email reply to an inquiry by eWEEK. That lower end of the market didn't exist in 2007 when the first Apple iPhones appeared. "The emergence of the Economy or Ultra-Economy price band, coupled with the relative stagnation of the premium bands in developed markets, means that vendors need to diversify their product ranges to include these new consumers," wrote Bhas. "Most of these new entrants have come from the emerging markets, most notably as Xiaomi and ZTE from China and Micromax from India. These vendors, although comparatively young, now have the experience of operating in low margin environments."
A key growth spurt in the market is being played out right now in India, he wrote, where significant growth is expected "from both home-grown and international brands launching new products specifically tailored to the budget end of the market."