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4G smartphone shipments to reach 1.17 billion units this year: IDC

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Recently, we have seen that Reliance Jio is trying to shake up the smartphone market by giving out free 4G SIM cards as well as introducing low-cost 4G-enabled smartphones under its own branding. And now the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report has hinted that 4G smartphones are still expected to show double-digit uptake at 21.3% year-over-year growth globally for 2016, reaching 1.17 billion units, up from 967 million in year-ago period.

The IDC report further revealed that emerging markets in Asia/Pacific region (excluding Japan, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and Middle East and Africa) will contribute to 77 per cent growth in 4G-enabled smartphone shipments as compared to 61 per cent in 2015. On the other hand, IDC’s 2016 projection for adoption of 4G technology in mature markets like USA, Canada, Japan, and Western Europe will be around 94 per cent as against 85% in 2015.

“It’s been a long slog for 4G uptake in many emerging markets as 4G data tariffs have long been very expensive compared to 3G, while 4G handsets themselves have also been relatively pricey across the board,” said Melissa Chau, associate research director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers.

It must be noted the push to 4G is not only limited to smartphones, but will also provide a temporary boost to the shrinking feature phone market where 4G is a selling point in an even more cost-competitive space. In IDC’s short-term forecast, 4G feature phones will feature in emerging markets as well as in mature markets like the US until smartphone prices drop further.

Asserting that smartphone marketing has picked up significantly across almost all regions as the holiday quarter is inching closer, Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, said, “In North America and Western Europe, Google has been putting a significant amount of marketing dollars behind the new Pixel and Pixel XL, although early supply chain indications are that volumes are not at the point where Samsung or Apple should see a significant impact for Q4.”

The IDC report has also projected the growth of Android, iOS and Windows phones this year.

1) Android

Most of us are aware that Google’s Android OS has been and will remain the majority share platform in smartphones for the foreseeable future. It will also be at the core of the aforementioned 4G growth expected in emerging markets as low-cost Android players are not using newer, faster low-cost chips. But what has been the focal point in regard to Android is Google’s recent entry into the hardware space.

2) iOS

There have been a lot of signs that try to hint that year 2016 will witness a fall in shipments for Apple’s iPhone. No doubt that the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have faired well, but three quarters of year-over-year declines, as well as a projected fourth quarter decline by IDC, will account for negative growth. Let’s see what Apple has got to offer us next year as 2017 marks the tenth year of iPhone.

3) Windows Phone

IDC projects Windows Phone shipments to decline 79.1% in 2016 as the number of OEMs supporting the platform continue to diminish. However, speculations are rife that Microsoft may roll out a surface phone.
It is worth noting that the global smartphone shipments are likely to reach 1.45 billion units with a year-over-year growth rate of 0.6% in 2016, as per IDC report.

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