According to the new forecast by International Data Corporation ( IDC), worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to rebound slightly in 2017 with expected growth of 3.0 percent over the previous year.
The report says that in 2016, year-over-year growth was 2.5percent, marking the lowest growth the industry has ever experienced. With several major devices entering the market this year, IDC anticipates shipment volumes will grow to 1.52 billion in 2017.
IDC also expects this momentum to carry into 2018, when smartphone shipments are forecast to grow 4.5 percent year over year, fueled by improved economic conditions in many emerging markets and a full year of new iPhone shipments from Apple.
"2016 was an interesting year for smartphones with some high-growth markets down and other mature markets like the US and China outpacing global growth rates," said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers.
He said, "looking ahead, we continue to believe several factors will enable the smartphone market to regain some of its momentum. First and foremost is that less than half the world's population is currently using a smartphone, and markets like the Middle East & Africa, Central & Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia still have plenty of room to grow."
He further said, "In addition, as consumers continue to demand more from their smartphones we expect to see a large portion of the installed base that is currently using low-end devices begin to seek a more robust experience on more capable devices. Media consumption, gaming, augmented and virtual reality, and constant connectivity are drivers of this trend."
The research firm pointed out that looking closer at 2018, the Middle East & Africa region for Android devices is expected to be the fastest growing at 10 percent year over year, which will well outpace the forecast for worldwide growth of 4.1 percent.
The report added that coming off the first year in which iPhone shipments declined, expectations are that 2017 volumes will grow 3.8 percent, however, the firm slightly lowered its 2017 projections for Apple in this forecast to 223.6 million, while increasing its 2018 volumes to 240.4 million.
The Windows Phone shipments continue to fall as the lack of new hardware partners, developer support, and overall enthusiasm for the platform show no immediate signs of recovery. IDC expects 2017 volumes to decline 80.9 percent to just 1.1 million units.