MWC

Almost 2bn mobile phones will be shipped globally this year

Tyrone Stewart

Woman holding phoneThe number of mobile phone shipments will increase by 2.6 per cent this year to 1.9bn units, as smartphone sales grow by 6.2 per cent to represent 87 per cent of mobile phone sales.

According to Gartner’s latest forecasts, developments in areas such as on-device AI, virtual personal assistants, and biometrics will help drive this growth. Meanwhile, the first countries to receive 5G next year will mean nine per cent of devices sold by 2021 will support the wireless mobile system.

“We expect Apple smartphone sales to grow by more than the market average in 2018, with the launch of new models fuelling stronger replacement cycles,” said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner. “We predict that, by 2021, 9 percent of smartphones sold will support 5G. Overall, 5G will be a significant driver of video and streaming services, as it will bring faster uplinks and support new AI applications.”

Overall, worldwide shipments of devices – PCs, tablets, and mobile phones – are on course to reach 2.32bn units this year, a 2.1 per cent increase from last year’s 2.28bn. This growth will be driven by the high-end smartphone segment within the mobile phone market and the ultramobile market, which are midsize lightweight computing devices such as tablets and thin, lightweight PCs.

The ultramobile market is expected to be the only PC segment to achieve growth this year, while traditional PC shipments fall 5.4 per cent and notebooks by 6.8 per cent.

“Consumers have many technologies to choose from, which poses two main challenges for vendors,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. “The first is to compete for wallet share, given how many devices consumers own. The second is to deliver value and maintain relevance — to offer the right device to the right audience. We will see more buyers focusing on value, rather than just price, and therefore considering higher-priced devices."