368m smartphone units were sold globally in Q4 2015, up six per cent year-on-year, according to figures from GfK. However, that increase didn't translate into an equivalent jump in revenues, which remained static due to a six per cent year-on-year decline in average selling price.
Over the full year, 1.3bn units were sold, an increase of seven per cent. China contributed the largest proportion of sales – some 385m units, or 29.5 per cent of the global total – singlehandledly beating out entire regions including North America (191m, 14.6 per cent) and emerging APAC (185m, 14.2 per cent).
“Despite a record Q4 – and a strong performance in 2015 in general – there are mixed results across countries,” said Kevin Walsh, director of trends and forecasting at GfK. “Local factors, rather than regional and industry trends, are increasingly driving markets. Diverging economic trends, device saturation, mass market adoption, politics, social change and even sport have an impact on smartphone demand and prices at country level.”
In 2016, GfK predicts global smartphone sales of 1.4bn, a year-on-year increase of seven per cent. China will continue to make up the single biggest chunk (397m) but the biggest growth will coming from emerging APAC markets, which are expected to see a 20.5 per cent increase to 50m units.
Smartphone sales are forecast to drop in just two markets: North and Latin America (down 1.1 per cent and 12.7 per cent respectively).
“In 2016, we expect local country factors rather than global trends to impact the market,” said Walsh. “While 2016 will be another year of global growth, it will be more important than ever for businesses to understand individual country trends and market segments.”