China slowdown drags down global mobile sales

Computerworld Hong Kong staff
09 Jul 2015

China's mobile phone market is showing signs of reaching a saturation point, and it is dragging down the global device market as a result, according to Gartner.

Worldwide mobile sales are expected to slow down to 3.3% growth as a result of a weaker performance in China, Gartner research director Annette Zimmermann said.

“We have witnessed fewer and fewer first time buyers in China, a sign that the mobile phone market in there is reaching saturation,” she said.

“Vendors in China will have to win replacement buyers and improve the appeal of their premium offerings to attract upgrades, if they want to maintain or increase their market share.”

This will leave mobile device vendors looking to enhance their performance in the global smartphone market to look to emerging markets outside of China, where sales of both smartphones and feature phones remain robust.

Total worldwide device shipments will reach 2.5 billion units this year, up a mere 1.5% from 2014, Gartner predicts. For the first time since 2010, end-user spending on devices is expected to decline in US dollar terms, falling to $606 billion.

As well as a cooling mobile market, sluggish PC purchases in parts of the market are contributing to the slowdown. The mobile market in fact remains the only category to show growth, with sales of desktop PCs, notebooks and ultramobiles (tablets and clamshells) all in decline.

Ultramobile sales are on pace to decline 5.3% to 214 million this year, as a result of fewer first-time buyers and extended product life cycles. PC shipments are meanwhile on pace to fall to 251 million units, from 277 million in 2014.

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