The smartphones market will begin a revival this year ahead of further growth in 2018, according to IDC
The market watcher expects to see shipment growth of three per cent this year, following on from a record low of 2.5 per cent in 2016.
The entrance of several major devices this year will help shipments grow to 1.52 billion in 2017, IDC said, noting this trend will roll over into 2018, when it predicts shipments will increase 4.5 per cent year over year thanks to economical improvements in various emerging markets and the latest Apple iPhone reaching a year in new shipments.
"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," Ryan Reith, programme VP for IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, said in a statement.
"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 and Africa, central and eastern Europe and south-east Asia still have plenty of room to grow."
The analyst added that virtual reality, augmented realty, media consumption and gaming will drive demand from users of low-end devices toward more "robust" experiences.
IDC added that developments around computing, cameras, storage and display technology will drive refresh demand as high-end devices maintain a grip on the market.
Over the next couple years, displays will be the smartphone market's "battlefield", Anthony Scarsella, research manager for IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said in a statement
"We have seen both Samsung and LG opt for new borderless 18:9 displays, and Apple could be set to join the party later this year," he added. "As smartphone owners continue to consume media on their devices, the screen - bigger, brighter and bolder - will be an integral part of the overall design language for each vendor. From flexible to foldable and everything between, 18:9 displays look to be just the beginning of what's to come."
IDC also reported that for the quarter, devices running on Android's OS represented 85.1 per cent market share, showing 3.5 perc ent annual growth. Apple's iOS came in second at a 14.7 per cent market share and 3.8 per cent annual growth.
Meanwhile, IDC expects shipments of Windows phones to decrease 80.9 percent this year as Microsoft has yet to commit to any Surface-like smartphone approach or get vendors to embrace its platform. It said there is minimal hope of a turnaround in the coming years.
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