Gartner: The era of double-digit smartphone growth is over

Refurbished smartphones
The smartphone has had a good run, but it’s over now.

OK, maybe the smartphone isn’t dead just yet, but according to Gartner, the growth of the smartphone market certainly is slowing. So much so that for the first time ever, smartphone sales growth will fall under 10 percent this year.

“The double-digit growth era for the global smartphone market has come to an end,” said Gartner researcher Ranjit Atwal in a statement. “Historically, worsening economic conditions had negligible impact on smartphone sales and spend, but this is no longer the case. China and North America smartphone sales are on pace to be flat in 2016, exhibiting a 0.7 percent and 0.4 percent growth respectively.”

While smartphone growth will almost plateau in China and North America, growth in emerging markets will continue. Worldwide it’s expected that smartphone growth will hit 7 percent, or sales of 1.5 billion units.

Despite the fact that growth is slowing around the world, there is still one shining light for smartphones: India. Largely hailed as the next major frontier for tech companies, India has been a major target for smartphone manufacturers as well as the likes of Facebook and Google. According to the report, India will continue to exhibit double-digit growth over the next two years.

One of the reasons for slowing smartphone sales, according to the report, is the fact that people are holding on to their phones for longer. This has a lot to do with carrier plans, which are becoming more complex and confusing, as well as the fact that smartphones are being upgraded incrementally, giving users less of a reason to upgrade every year or two.

Apart from smartphones, Gartner also commented on PC shipments, saying that, surprise surprise, PC growth is still slowing. PC shipments are expected to be down 1.5 percent this year compared to last.

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