Global smartphone sales of $96 billion set new Q1 recordStaff writer ▼ | May 16, 2015
In the first quarter of 2015, global smartphone unit demand increased +7 percent, compared to the same period last year.
Smartphones Demand for large screen devices to grow by 30 percent year-on-year
Smartphone sales value in Western Europe declined on a year-on-year basis for the first time in Q1 2015, dragged down by Spain and France. As smartphone penetration nears saturation point, both countries are expected to see a slowdown in smartphone unit growth this year compared to 2014.
In Central Europe, the macroeconomic situation in Russia has significantly impacted sales. As a result, GfK forecasts that 2015 smartphone demand in the region will grow more slowly than Western Europe for the first time since 2010.
In Q1 2015, 4G unit share surpassed 50 percent of global smartphone demand for the first time. China saw the greatest 4G share increase in the quarter - up 16 percentage points to 73 percent, from 57 percent last quarter.
Growth has been buoyed by the continued price erosion of 4G smartphones. GfK forecasts global 4G share to increase further in 2015, reaching 59 percent in Q4 2015.
Smartphone growth in India and Indonesia is also expected to be helped by an expanding 4G network. In Q1 2015, 4G share in both countries was well below the global average, at 4 percent and 7 percent, respectively. GfK forecasts 4G unit share within smartphones to reach 7 percent in India and 10 percent in Indonesia in 2015.
Q1 2015 saw a continued shift towards larger screen sizes (5"+), where sales of 166m units equated to 47 percent of the global smartphone market, up from 32 percent in Q1 2014. Share of large screen devices in N. America hit 70 percent in the quarter, up from 59 percent in the same period last year, driven by strong demand for high-end models.
By comparison, in China, where the trend is particularly pronounced, the growth in share to 57 percent - from 32 percent in Q1 2014 - was driven by cheaper large screen models flooding into the market.
GfK forecasts this screen size migration to continue in 2015, with global demand for large screen devices increasing by +30 percent year-on-year to account for 69 percent of total smartphone unit demand this year.
Low-end smartphones - those priced in the region of $0-250 - increased share to 56 percent, up from 52 percent in Q4 2014, at the expense of the high-end models ($500+), whilst mid-range ($250-500) share remained stable. GfK forecasts low-end smartphones to gain further share in 2015, helped by continued price erosion in emerging markets. ■