Smartphone shipments expected to fall

The mobile revolution appears to be grinding to a halt as IDC expects a slow down in smartphone shipments at least until 2018.

Beancounters at IDC have been shuffling their Tarot cards and see that there will be a sharp drop in the growth in global smartphone shipments this year and keep slowing through 2018.

The report predicts that average prices will drop significantly as demand shifts to China and other developing countries.

Annual growth in 2014 is expected to be 19.3 percent and then decline to 6.2 percent in 2018, IDC said in a report. That follows a 39.2 percent jump in 2013 when smartphone shipments topped 1 billion units for the first time.

This reinforces concerns on Wall Street that the explosion in is coming to an end, at least in the United States and other developed countries where consumers favour pricey, top-tier handsets.

Smartphone growth in North America and Europe is expected to shrink to single digits and Japan could even see a slight slowdown in shipments in the next few years, IDC said.

Manufacturers are increasingly focusing on China where many consumers are upgrading from basic mobiles to smartphones selling for under $300.

“New markets for growth bring different rules to play by and ‘premium’ will not be a major factor in the regions driving overall market growth,” IDC analyst Ryan Reith said in a report.

The average selling price for smarpthones last year was $335, already far below flagship devices like the iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy S4, and will fall to $260 by 2018, IDC said.