Reliance Lyf makes it to top five smartphone brands in India: Counterpoint Research
Reliance Lyf makes it to top five smartphone brands in India: Counterpoint ResearchReuters

Gartner, a firm specialising in information technology research and advice, has just released its forecast report on PCs, smartphones and ultramobiles around the world, which says the global smartphone market will grow by 7 percent this year. According to the report, this will be the first time the market will exhibit single-digit growth numbers.

Globally, it is reported that 1,917 million handsets were shipped in 2015, and Gartner predicts that number will grow only to 1,943 million in 2016.

"The double-digit growth era for the global smartphone market has come to an end," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, in a statement. "Historically, worsening economic conditions had negligible impact on smartphone sales and spend, but this is no longer the case. China and North America smartphone sales are on pace to be flat in 2016, exhibiting a 0.7 per cent and 0.4 per cent growth respectively [sic]."

According to the report, North American smartphone users will put off upgrading their devices, citing complicated deals with carriers and incremental technological updates. Gartner predicts a similar trend in the Asia-Pacific region as well; however, the slowed growth here has been attributed to low-cost smartphones not offering better features.

"Prices did not decline enough to drive upgrades from low-end feature phones to low-end smartphones," said Annette Zimmermann, research director at Gartner, in a statment. "Vendors were not able to reduce the price of a 'good enough to use' smartphone lower than $50. [sic]"

In contrast, Gartner predicts the Indian smartphone market will show double-digit growth. Pegging 2016's growth rate at 29 percent, the report said India's smartphone user base is expected to increase, driving double-digit sales that may last up to two years.

The report also studied growth rates for PCs and Ultramobiles. It predicted PC sales will drop 6.7 percent in 2016 . However, it also said PC sales will see positive growth in 2017. According to Atwal, the integration of Windows 10 with Intel's Skylake processors will bring in new form factors, thus driving sales.

It also reported that demand for tablets and ultramobiles will continue to weaken as users will either hang on to their current devices or fail to replace them through 2016.

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