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Smartphones: Growth Unabated in 3Q, Though China Expected to Weigh on 2017 Demand

chinaLatin America returns to growth after five consecutive quarters of decline

Demand in Great Britain grows following ‘Brexit’ vote

China demand to decline in 2017 due to reduced operator subsidies

Global smartphone demand totaled 353 million units in 3Q16, up seven percent quarter-on-quarter and up seven percent year-on-year. This was driven by continued strong growth in China, together with increases in all other regions, except North America. Smartphone revenues in the quarter totaled USD 104 billion (up four percent quarter-on-quarter and nine percent year-on-year).

Overall, GfK forecasts global smartphone demand to total 1.4 billion units in 2016. The year-on-year increase of seven percent will be driven by 15 percent growth in China. We expect this to moderate to three percent growth year-on-year in 2017, dragged down by a forecast three percent decline in China.

Western Europe: Smartphone demand up 12 percent quarter-on- quarter

Smartphone demand totaled 33 million units. This one percent year-on-year growth follows two quarters of decline. In Great Britain, demand grew three percent year-on-year in the quarter, suggesting the ‘Brexit’ vote has failed to dampen demand to date. The fall in value of the GBP has yet to increase smartphone ASP. GfK forecasts smartphone demand in the region to remain flat in 2017 at 134 million units.

Central & Eastern Europe: Strong performance in Poland and Ukraine

Here smartphone demand totaled 21 million units (up 22 percent quarter-on-quarter, and 10 percent year-on-year). The performance was powered by year-on-year growth of 12 percent in Poland and 28 percent in Ukraine. GfK forecasts smartphone demand in the region to grow 10 percent year-on-year in 2017 to 85 million units.

North America: Quarterly demand up eight percent from 2Q

With smartphone sales at 46 million units, demand was up eight percent quarter-on-quarter, but down one percent year-on-year. A 13 percent year-on-year decline in demand for mid-range smartphones (USD 250-500) offset the mild growth seen in both low-end (USD 0-250) and high-end (USD 500+) devices. GfK forecasts smartphone demand here to grow one percent year-on-year in 2017 to 193 million units.

Latin America: Chile and Peru see growth again

The region enjoyed a return to year-on-year growth for the first time in five quarters. Smartphone demand totaled 26 million units, up five percent quarter-on-quarter, six percent year-on-year. This was helped by moderating declines in Brazil and a return to growth in Chile and Peru. Growth in Argentina remained high at 60 percent year-on-year. GfK forecasts smartphone demand in the region to grow one percent year-on-year to 106 million units.

Middle East and Africa: Saudi Arabia and Nigeria weigh down growth

Smartphone demand totaled 42 million units, up two percent quarter-on-quarter and four percent year-on-year – the slowest ever year-on-year increase in the region. This was due to year-on-year demand declines of 29 percent in Saudi Arabia and 17 percent in Nigeria. Despite recent political turmoil in Turkey, smartphone demand remained positive, albeit moderating to three percent growth year-on-year. GfK forecasts smartphone demand in the region to grow year-on-year in 2017, with figures to follow next quarter.

China: A tale of two price bands

Here smartphone demand totaled 113 million units in 3Q16. The rise of three percent quarter-on-quarter, and 15 percent year-on-year was driven by growth in the mid-range (USD 250-500) price band. This 25 percent year-on-year growth offset a decline of six percent in demand for high-end smartphones (USD 500+) in the same period. GfK forecasts smartphone demand in China to decline three percent year-on-year in 2017 to 434 million units, as a result of an expected decline in operator subsidies.

Developed Asia*: High-end devices, Australia and Japan power the market

3Q saw a return to year-on-year growth after two quarters of decline. The drivers were a return to growth in Australia (up six percent year-on-year) and improving growth in Japan. Overall smartphone demand totaled 18 million units (up eight percent quarter-on-quarter, three percent year-on-year). Demand for high-end (USD 500+) smartphones increased seven percent year-on-year. GfK forecasts smartphone demand in the region to be flat in 2017 at 73 million units.

Emerging Asia*: Demand driven by Philippines and Bangladesh

Smartphone demand totaled 54 million units (up eight percent both quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year). A 27 percent year-on-year growth in the Philippines and 17 percent growth in Bangladesh contributed to the demand. High-end (USD 500+) smartphone share declined slightly to four percent, and unit demand dropped six percent year-on-year. GfK forecasts smartphone demand in the region to increase eight percent year-on-year in 2017 to 229 million units.

Arndt Polifke, global director of telecom research at GfK, comments, “Smartphone sales growth continued at a steady pace in 3Q16 with year-on-year growth across all regions except North America. Easing macro-economic instability in Latin America resulted in a return to growth in that region, whilst pent up demand in Russia and Ukraine continued to drive Central and Eastern Europe. China remained the key global growth driver in 3Q16. However, this trend will change in 2017 when China is forecast to see a decline in demand which will weigh on global growth.”

About Marc Mcilhone

Marc Mcilhone is ChineseBrains' Editor - sourcing news and features content and overseeing the work of the site’s contributors. Marc’s work is informed by his technical background in architecture having worked for some of the UK’s leading practices on projects within the education, healthcare and housing sectors. Marc has a particular interest in how innovators are creating sustainable solutions that have a positive impact on people’s everyday lives. Please email press releases and news to:

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