Smartphones are devices that we use on a daily basis and companies try and show us the new features that they have to offer each year and while mobile devices have changed a lot over the last few years, Smartphone fatigue is something that is now taking effect and the sales of major smartphone manufacturers have dropped as seen in Q1 2018 financials.
When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone we were all amazed at what the device had to offer, the introduction of the touch display was revolutionary to say the very least and we are still seeing other smartphone manufacturers copying what Apple is doing. Apple iPhone X features the notch on top and we have seen a couple of Android devices that come with the notch as well.
Every year we see small changes being made in the smartphone space, a little bit better camera here, a slightly faster CPU there, bigger battery as well. In 2018, we see that on average all smartphones are pretty good and you can do 90% of all things that an average user would do on any kind of smartphone. You will notice that there are people that own a slightly older device and are completely fine with that.
There comes a point where the newer features are not worth the investment. If you have the Samsung Galaxy S8 for example, you might not want to upgrade to the S9. The S8 is a perfectly great smartphone and the S9 not only looks pretty much the same but also has similar hardware inside as well. To support that Samsung saw half the number of sales in China as compared to last year. In 2018 the core functionality of smartphones is very impressive indeed and people have fewer incentives to upgrade to a flagship device year after year.
Talking about the numbers we see that the smartphone shipments have increased dramatically from 2012 to 2014 and then it becomes stable(mostly) from there to 2016. After that, we see a slight increase in smartphone shipments in 2017 but in 2018 we see a plunge in the numbers. Smartphone fatigue could be the reason why this number as reduced in 2018.
Keep in mind that phones that were bought in 2017 and 2016 are perfectly capable in 2018. This is one of the reasons why people are not buying new phones and flagship devices. in Q1 2017 China saw a total shipment number of 114 million, in Q1 2018 the number has now dropped to 91 million. This is the biggest ever decline in the Chinese mobile market that we have seen to date and I believe that this is not something that only affects China.
The total drop in shipments is of 21% and 8 of the top 10 players in the mobile market have seen a decrease in smartphone shipments. These manufacturers include Gionee, Meizu and Samsung. Out of the 10 players in the market, Huawei saw a minor increase in shipment. Xiaomi is the only company that that saw a 37% growth. This is very interesting keeping in mind that the company makes $200 smartphones.
This could be an indication that even $200 phones are capable of performing well enough to meet the core needs of the users and smartphone fatigue is at the higher end side of the smartphone market. Smartphone prices are increasing and they are not offering features that are worth the yearly upgrade. Buying a $1000 smartphone is a huge investment and if you are spending that amount of money on a device then there are high chances that you are not going to be upgrading next year when a refresh of the same device comes out.
This is the report for Q1 2018 and seeing how this is the start of the year this trend could change. The upcoming quarters will help us see whether or not this trend is going to continue.
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Let us know what you think about smartphone fatigue and whether or not you think this is something that is affecting customer perception as well as smartphone sales.