No market ever “grows to the sky,” and that is evident for smartphones. For the most part, smartphone markets in Western Europe and the United States are replacement markets.
China’s smartphone market, meanwhile, is slowing., explained, “Xiaomi takes advantage of the shortest replacement cycle in urban China, a mere 12 months against the overall smartphone average of 20 months,” according to Tamsin Timpson, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Asia.
Brand consideration for Huawei, however, is growing rapidly – now at 51% among consumers intending to upgrade in the next 3 months – Xiaomi reaching only 25%.”
“The maturity of the European market is evident when looking at the declining number of first time smartphone buyers,” said Dominic Sunnebo, business unit director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Europe. “In the three months ending July 2015, only 25 percent of smartphones sold went to first-time buyers versus 29 percent for the same period in 2014.”
Replacement markets also mean that market share is grown mostly by taking share from another provider.
“This type of market maturity increases the impact of churn on overall performance as we have seen with Android this time around,” he said. “Of smartphone buyers across Europe left Android for iOS versus nine percent in the US.”
”The latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech for the three months ending July 2015 shows continued market share losses for the Android OS across Europe’s five largest markets, while Android’s share remained positive in the U.S.,” he said.
As smartphone sales become “replacement” sales, the pace of mobile data revenue growth inevitably will slow, as new customers will be hard to find.