Larger screen devices and demand from Latin America pushes sales to new high
2014 was a record-breaking year for smartphone sales across the world as consumer demand helped pushed figures to their highest level yet.
Figures released by market research firm GfK found that smartphone sales exceeded 1.2 billion units last year, spurred on by demand for devices with larger screens devices such as Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
346m units were sold in the fourth quarter of 2014 alone, 19 percent more than in 2013, pushing overall revenue for the last three months of the year to $115bn, an increase of 20 percent year-on-year.
Sales of smartphones with screens larger than five inches grew 180percent in 2014, and GfK forecasts this to be the largest segment in 2015 as more manufacturers enter the market.
However the largest increase in 2015 will come from devices costing less than $100, driven by demand from emerging markets, the firm says.
All regions saw growth, but the huge rise in sales was notably boosted by large demand from Latin America, which showed a 59 percent growth in demand from the previous year.
The only exception was the Developed APAC region, where subsidy changes in Korea negatively affected these already very mature markets.
GfK sees China remaining the biggest market in terms of both unit and value sales for the foreseeable future. However, growth slowed dramatically in the second half of 2014. During the fourth quarter smartphone unit sales were flat year-on-year, although the value of units sold increased by 21 percent year-on-year to $28bn, the highest ever quarterly figure.
“The increase in the value of units sold in China, despite the recent plateauing of unit sales, is due to consumers’ rapid adoption of higher priced smartphones with larger screen sizes,” said Kevin Walsh, director of trends and forecasting at GfK.
“This is a trend seen in most markets and GfK global data shows that the 5 to 5.6 inch segment grew by more than 130 percent year-on-year in the last quarter of 2014 and by nearly 150 percent in the full year. In 2015, we forecast this segment to become the dominant screen size band, surpassing 4 to 4.5 inch for the first time.”
Overall, the report predicts that all regions will grow in unit terms in 2015, but growth rates will slow significantly from 2014 as the smartphone market matures, reaching just 14 percent this year.
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