Technology research group Gartner has predicted that the smartphone boom is coming to an end.
The firm has forecast sales dropping to single digits and market growth of only 7% this year, that’s under half of the 14.4% growth reported last year.
Robert Cozza, Research Director at Gartner, says that during the next number of years many smartphone manufacturers are set to struggle.
She said that premium phone users are keeping their handsets for around two and a half years on average in the mature markets, something that they do not expect to see change in the next five year period.
Mobile phone operators are said to be moving away from the ‘subsidised’ phone model which saw them offer a ‘free’ smartphone to customers every two years which has resulted in an increased variation of upgrade cycles.
Phone suppliers like Apple have responded by offering upgrade programmes which give users new hardware after just one year.
However, Ms Cozza said that such schemes are not suitable to all needs as market trends show that consumers are happy to keep their phone for two years or even longer, as updates in technology have become incremental instead of exponential.
She added that big market players like Samsung and Apple must consider expanding the smartphone functionality by introducing features such as connected home support and virtual reality.
However, she believes that only some smartphone makers will be able to keep pace with the competition.
Cozza said that manufacturers from China have the market agility to rapidly introduce new technology, but that much of it is done ‘for the sake of it’.
She also said that the smartphone industry must make a switch to services that focus on the provision of a good, end to end experience for users, regardless of the device consumers use to access a service.