Smartphone growth stalls amid innovation lull, saturation in mature markets, says IDC

Smartphone shipment growth is stalling as most devices are just good enough. Apple is one of many feeling the squeeze.

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Image: IDC

Smartphone shipments will see anemic growth in 2016 as developed markets peter out amid saturation, according to IDC.

Global smartphone shipments are expected to grow 1.6 percent, down from 10.4 percent in 2015, according to research firm IDC.

Mature markets such as the US, Canada, Japan, and Western Europe will see a compound annual growth rate of 0.2 percent from 2015 to 2020. Emerging markets will have a compound annual growth rate of 5.4 percent from 2015 to 2020.

Also see: Apple, Samsung capture all of industry's smartphone profits

Add it up and the smartphone industry went from one that delivered breakneck growth but is now merely about replacement cycles. Over time, smartphones will resemble the PC market, where you get a demand surge every two or three years.

IDC also noted that the smartphone industry is in an innovation lull, with most devices good enough. Augmented and virtual reality hold some promise when it comes to spurring tech buyers to upgrade.

Through 2020, Android devices will continue to dominate, and augmented and virtual reality can help market share. Apple's iPhone demand should rebound in 2017, but shipments will fall in 2016.

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